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Willis F. Overton is the Thaddeus Lincoln Bolton Professor of Psychology, Emeritus. His activities include work in the fields of Developmental and Clinical Psychology. He is currently a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in Division 7 (Developmental), Division 12 (Clinical), and Division 20 (Adult Development & Aging). Person-centered action theories of development, especially Piaget’s and Werner’s theories, and person-centered action theories of personality, particularly object relations theories such as those of D. W. Winnicott and H. S. Sullivan, frame his approach to the study of the development and functioning of the psychological subject. A number of his writings focus on the articulation of philosophical, metatheoretical, and methodological assumptions that ground and contextualize alternative conceptions of development, cognition, personality and the nature of scientific inquiry. His empirical research has focused on cognitive development — in particular, the development of reasoning in adolescence — the, relation between cognitive and personality development, and developmental psychopathology.
Following several years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, Professor Overton received his university education at Boston University where he was awarded his B. A. (magna cum laude) and M.A. in psychology. He received his Ph.D. from Clark University where he was trained in Developmental and Clinical Psychology. Prior to joining the Temple faculty in 1972 as Director of the Division of Developmental Psychology he taught in the Psychology Department at SUNY/Buffalo. He has also taught in a number of European countries including Czechoslovak, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland. In 1982 he was awarded a prestigious Lindback Foundation Award for distinguished teaching. Professor Overton served as chair of the psychology department at Temple University from 2000-2006. His clinical work has included supervision of psychological interns at The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital and The Pennsylvania Hospital. Until its closing, he was Senior Research Scientist at The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital.
Professor Overton is currently President of the Society for the Study of Human Development and is a past President of the Jean Piaget Society. After a number of years on the Board of Directors of the Jean Piaget Society, he is currently an honorary member of that Board, and a member of the Geneva based International Associates of the Archives Jean Piaget. He was the Editor of Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development from 1999-2006. He was Associate Editor of the journal Developmental Psychology for several years, and has served on numerous editorial boards including Child Development , Cognitive Development, Development & Psychopathology , Human Development , Journal of Experimental Child Psychology , Journal of Adult Development , Journal of Research on Adolescents , International Journal of Behavioral Development , and Psychological Inquiry . He was also a member of the NIH Developmental Behavioral Sciences Study Section, and has served on many committees of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, and the Jean Piaget Society.