Area of Study
Email Address
Taylor Science Center 3037

Child psychologist Rachel White examines the development of self-control from the preschool years through adolescence. She is particularly interested in how children use play and other imaginative strategies, like taking another person’s perspective, to better regulate their thoughts, behaviors and emotions. Her scholarly work can be found in journals such as Child Development, Developmental Science, and the Journal of Educational Psychology. Professor White received her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and her master's degree and doctorate from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the faculty at Hamilton, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship and taught at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been an advisor to Sesame Workshop, PBS KIDS, the Minnesota Children’s Museum and schools across the country.

Recent Courses Taught

Lifespan Development
The Developmental Psychology of Self-Control
Introduction to Psychology
Senior Project
Collaborative Research in Psychology

Select Publications

  • White, R. E., Thibodeau-Nielsen, R., Palermo, F., & Mikulski, A. (2021). Engagement in social pretend play predicts preschoolers’ executive function gains across the school year. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 56, 103-113.
  • White, R. E., & Carlson, S. M. (2021). Pretending with realistic and fantastical stories facilitates executive function in 3-year-old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 207, 105090.
  • White, R. E., Carlson, S. M., & Zelazo, P. D. (2020). Symbolic Thought. Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development, 2e. Elsevier.
  • Grenell, A., White, R. E., Prager, E. O., Schaeffer, C., Kross, E., Duckworth, A., & Carlson, S. M. (2019). Experimental paradigm for measuring the effects of self-distancing in young children. Journal of Visual Experiments, 145, e59056.
  • White, R. E., Kuehn, M. M., Duckworth, A. L., Kross, E., & Ayduk, O. (2019). Focusing on the future from afar: Self-distancing from future stressors facilitates adaptive coping. Emotion, 19, 903-916.
  • White, R. E., Prager, E. O., Schaefer, C., Kross, E., Duckworth, A. L. & Carlson, S. M. (2017). The “Batman Effect”: Improving Perseverance in Young Children. Child Development, 88, 1563-1571.
  • Duckworth, A. L., White, R. E., Matteucci, A., Galla, B., Shearer, A., & Gross, J. (2016). A stitch in time: Strategic self-control in high school and college students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108, 329-341.
  • White, R. E., & Carlson, S. M. (2016). What would Batman do? Self-distancing improves executive function in young children. Developmental Science, 19, 419-426.
  • White, R. E., Kross, E., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). Spontaneous self-distancing and adaptive self-reflection across adolescence. Child Development, 86, 1272-1281.
  • Carlson, S. M., White, R. E., & Davis-Unger, A. (2014). Evidence for a relation between executive function and pretense representation in preschool children. Cognitive Development, 29, 1-16.
  • Carlson, S. M., & White, R. E. (2013). Executive function, pretend play, and imagination. In M. Taylor (Ed.), Handbook of Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • White, R. E. (2012). The power of play: A research summary on play and learning. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Professional Affiliations

Society for Research in Child Development
Cognitive Development Society

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
M.A., Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
B.A., Wellesley College

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