Santiago Morales

I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Developmental and Brain and Cognitive Science areas at the University of Southern California.

My research examines individual differences in the development of emotion and emotion regulation – often conceptualized as temperament. My research focuses on the impact that these early individual differences have on socioemotional development, especially with regards to the development of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. I am also interested in identifying factors, such as how children process social information, that help us determine which children at temperamental risk go on to develop socioemotional problems. My work integrates multiple methods including behavioral observations, computer-based tasks (eye tracking), and neuroscience measures (EEG and fMRI).

I received my Ph.D. and M.S. in Developmental Psychology with a specialization in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience from The Pennsylvania State University and B.A. in Neuroscience from Hiram College, OH. I also did a postdoc with Dr. Nathan Fox at the University of Maryland. 

I will be accepting graduate students for the Fall 2024! I will mentor students from the Developmental and Brain and Cognitive Science Ph.D. programs at the University of Southern California

Selected work

 1. Morales, S., Fu, X., & Pérez-Edgar, K. E. (2016). A Developmental Neuroscience Perspective on Affect Biased Attention. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 21, 26–41.

2. Morales, S., Miller, N. V., Troller-Renfree, S. V., White, L. K., Degnan, K. A., Henderson H. A., & Fox, N. A. (2019). Attention bias to reward predicts behavioral problems and moderates early risk to externalizing and attention problems. Development and Psychopathology. DOI:10.1017/S0954579419000166

3. Morales, S., Vallorani, A., & Pérez-Edgar, K. (2019). Young Children’s Behavioral and Neural Responses to Peer Feedback Relate to Internalizing Problems. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. DOI:10.1016/j.dcn.2018.12.008

4. Morales, S., Brown, K.M., Taber-Thomas, B.C., LoBue, V., Buss, K.A. & Pérez-Edgar, K.E. (2017). Maternal Anxiety Predicts Attentional Bias Towards Threat in Infancy. Emotion. DOI: 10.1037/emo0000275

5. Morales, S., Bowman, L. C., Velnoskey, K. R., Fox, N. A., & Redcay, E. (2019). An fMRI study of action observation and action execution in childhood. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. DOI:10.1016/j.dcn.2019.100655

6. Buzzell, G.A., Morales, S., Bowers, M.E., Troller-Renfree, S.V., Pine, D.S., Henderson, H.A., Fox, N.A. (in press). A two-pathway model of behavioral inhibition risk for social anxiety: higher inhibition or lower shifting confers risk in children with a behaviorally inhibited temperament. Developmental Science.

7. Tang, A., Crawford, H., Morales, S., Degnan, K. A., Pine, D. S., & Fox, N.A. (2020). Infant behavioral inhibition predicts personality and social outcomes three decades later. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:

8. Morales S., Ram N., Buss K. A., Cole P. M., Helm J. L., & Chow S-M. (2018). Age-related changes in the dynamics of fear-related regulation in early childhood. Developmental Science, e12633. DOI: 10.1111/desc.12633