Thalia R Goldstein

Thalia R Goldstein

Thalia R Goldstein

Assistant Professor

Applied Developmental Psychology: Developmental Psychology; Social Cognitive Development; Social and Emotional Learning; Play, Pretend, Imagination; Theatre, Drama and The Arts

Dr. Thalia R. Goldstein is Assistant Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology. Her work focuses on children's developing social and emotional skills, particularly theory of mind, empathy, and emotional control and regulation, and how such skills intersect with children's engagement in pretend play, theatre, drama, and other imaginative activities. She directs the SSIT lab (The Social Skills, Imagination, and Theatre Lab), which conducts research that looks both at the effects of engaging in pretend play and theatre on children's social-emotional skills, and how children understand and learn social information in fictional worlds. She is also the co-director of the National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab, the Mason Arts Research Center (MasonARC). 

Dr. Goldstein received a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 2010 from Boston College. She completed post-doctoral training at Yale University from 2010-2012. Following this, she moved to Pace University, where she was assistant professor from 2013-2017. Dr. Goldstein's research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The John Templeton Foundation, the Caplan Foundation, Arts Connection, and the Department of Homeland Security. Her papers have appeared in Child Development, Trends in Cognitive Science, Journal of Cognition and Development, and Developmental Science, among others. Dr. Goldstein serves on the editorial boards of the journals Empirical Studies in the Arts and Imagination Cognition and Personality, and she is the current co-editor of the APA Division 10 Journal, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 

Current Research

Dr. Goldstein's current research includes projects on: 1) what implicit and explicit teaching strategies the very best acting teachers use with high school students to improve their social and emotional knowledge; 2) How varying levels of embodiment and representation improve children's learning and retention of social and factual information in pretend play; 3) How acting (versus reading) affects children's understanding of mental and emotional states; 4) How moral reasoning may be different for children in the pretend versus real world; 5) The creation of a new measurement of pretend play that incorporates all pretense-related behaviors; 6) How marching band may be an ideal test case for intergroup context and belongingness across racial and ethnic backgrounds; 7) How acting may be related to creativity across child development. For more information on Dr. Goldstein's research, please visit her lab website (ssit.gmu.edu).

Selected Publications

*Thompson, B., & Goldstein, T.R. (2019). Children Learn From Both Embodied and Passive Pretense: A Replication and Extension. Child Development. 

*Thompson, B., & Goldstein, T.R. (2019). Disentangling Pretend Play Measurement: Defining the Essential Elements and Developmental Progression of Pretense. Developmental Review. 

Goldstein, T. R., & Alperson, K. (2019). Dancing bears and talking toasters: A content analysis of supernatural elements in children’s media. Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

Goldstein, T. R., & Lerner, M. D. (2018). Dramatic pretend play games uniquely improve emotional control in young children. Developmental science21(4), e12603.

Goldstein, T. R. (2017). Live theatre as exception and test case for experiencing negative emotions in art. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X17001704

Goldstein, T. R., Lerner, M. D., & Winner, E. (2017). The arts as a venue for developmental science: Realizing a latent opportunity. Child development88(5), 1505-1512.

Panero, M.E. Weisberg, D.S, Black, J., Goldstein, T.R., Barnes, J., Winner, E., Brownell, H. (2016). Does reading a single passage of literary fiction really improve theory of mind? An attempt at replication. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(5), e46.

Goldstein, T. R., & Woolley, J. (2016). Ho! Ho! Who? Parent promotion of belief in and live encounters with Santa Claus. Cognitive Development39, 113-127.

Goldstein, T.R. & Bloom, P. (2015). Characterizing Characters: How children make sense of realistic acting. Cognitive Development, Special Issue: Cognizing the Unreal, 34, 39-50. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2014.12.001

Goldstein, T.R., & Winner, E. (2012). Enhancing empathy and theory of mind. Journal of Cognition and Development, 13, 19-37.

Goldstein, T.R. & Bloom, P. (2011). The mind onstage: Why cognitive scientists should study acting. Trends in Cognitive Science, 15, 141-142.

Goldstein, T.R. (2009). Psychological perspectives on acting. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3, 6-9.

Expanded Publication List

Goldstein, T.R. Lerner, M.D., Paterson, S., *Jaggi, L., Toub, T.S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R.M. (2019). Stakeholder Perceptions of the Effects of a Public School-Based Theatre Program for Children with ASD. Journal of Learning Through the Arts. 

*Kou, X., Konrath, S. & Goldstein, T.R. (in press). The Relationship between Different Types of Arts Engagement, Empathy, and Prosocial behavior. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts 

*DeBettingnes, B. & Goldstein, T. R. (in press). Improvisational theatre classes improve children’s self-concept. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. 

Kapstein, A. & Goldstein, T.R. (2019). Developing Wonder: Teaching Theatre for the Very Young through Collaboration with Developmental Psychology. Youth Theatre Journal, 33, 52-69. Doi 10.1080/08929092.2019.1580648

Arora, Prerna G., Levine, J. and Goldstein, T.R. "School psychologists’ interprofessional collaboration with medical providers: An initial examination of training, preparedness, and current practices." Psychology in the Schools 56.4 (2019): 554-568.

Goldstein, T. R. (2018). Developing a Dramatic Pretend Play Game Intervention. American Journal of Play10(3), 290-308.

*Sawyer, J. E., & Goldstein, T. (2019). Can Guided Play and Storybook Reading Promote Children’s Drawing Development?. Empirical Studies of the Arts37(1), 32-59.

Goldstein, T. R. & *Filipe, A. (2017). The interpreted mind: Understanding acting. Review of General Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/gpr0000116

Ershadi, M., Goldstein, T.R., Pochedly, J., & Russell, J.A. (2017). Facial expressions as performances in mime. Cognition and Emotion. 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2017.1317236

Goldstein, T.R. & Levy, A. (2017). The constricted muse: Acting and creativity. Cambridge Handbook of Creativity Across Domains, J. Kaufman, V. Glaveanu & J. Baer, Eds. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Panero, M.E. Weisberg, D.S, Black, J., Goldstein, T.R., Barnes, J., Winner, E., Brownell, H. (2017). No Support for the Claim that Literary Fiction Uniquely and Immediately Improves Theory of Mind: A Reply to Kidd and Castano’s Commentary on Panero, Weisberg, Black, Goldstein, Barnes, Brownell, & Winner (2016). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112, e5-e8.

Arora, P., Kelly, J, & Goldstein, T.R. (2016). Current and future school psychologists’ preparedness to work with LGBT students: Role of Education and Gay-Straight Alliances. Psychology in the Schools, 53, 722-735.

Panero, M.E., Goldstein, T.R., Rosenberg, R., Hughes, H., & Winner, E. (2016). Do actors posses traits associated with high hypnotizability? Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 10, 233-239. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000044

Feldman, D., Ward, E., Handley, S. & Goldstein, T. R. (2015). Evaluating drama therapy in school settings: A case study of the ENACT program. Drama Therapy Review, 1, 127-145.

Goldstein, T.R. (2015). Predictors of engagement in and transfer from acting training. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 9, 266-273.

Goldstein, T.R. & Bloom, P. (2015). Is it Oscar-worthy? Children’s metarepresentational understanding of acting. PLOS One 10(3). E0119604, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119604

Goldstein, T.R., Tamir, M., & Winner, E. (2013). Expressive suppression and acting. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 7, 191-196.

Goldstein, T.R. & Winner. E. (2012). Sympathy for a character’s plight: Sex differences in response to theatre. Empirical Studies in the Arts, 30, 129-141.

Goldstein, T.R. (2011). Correlations among social-cognitive skills in adolescents involved in acting (vs. arts) classes. Mind, Brain and Education, 5, 97-103.

Goldstein, T.R. & Winner, E. (2010-2011). Engagement in role play, pretense and acting classes predict advanced theory of mind skill in middle childhood. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 30, 249-258.

Goldstein, T.R. & Winner, E. (2009). Living in alternative and inner worlds: Early signs of acting talent. Creativity Research Journal, 21, 117-124.

Goldstein, T.R. (2009). The pleasure of pure unadulterated sadness: Experiencing sorrow in fiction, nonfiction and in our own lives. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3, 232-237.

Goldstein, T.R., *Wu, K. & Winner, E. (2009-2010) Actors are experts in theory of mind but not empathy. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 29, 115-133.

Dalebroux, A., Goldstein, T.R., & Winner, E. (2008). Short-term mood repair through art- making: Attention redeployment is more effective than venting. Motivation and Emotion, 32(4), 288-295. 

Grants and Fellowships

2019. National Science Foundation, Science of Learning, SBE Directorate. Co-PI. Conference “Learning through Play and Imagination” Proposal ID 1940560.

2018-2020. National Endowment for the Arts: ArtsLabs. The Mason Arts Research Center (MasonARC). #118037

2017-2019. National Endowment for the Arts: Art Works. Theatrical Thinking: The Habits of Mind Taught in Theatre Classes. #17-980096

2017-2018. Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood. Puppets, Dolls, and Costumes:
Embodiment and Representation when Constructing Knowledge through Play.

2015-2018. Arts Connection. Theatre in School to Promote Youth with Autism.

2013-2016. The John Templeton Foundation. Training Empathy and Compassion through Engagement with Fictional Worlds #47592

2010-2012. National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. 

Courses Taught

PSYC 704- LifeSpan Development

PSYC 669- Social and Emotional Development

PSYC 335- Psychology of Creativity and Innovation

PSCY 461/592- Emotional Bases of Behavior (Special Topics)

Education

PostDoctoral Fellow, Yale University, 2010-2012.

PhD, Boston College, 2010.

MA, Boston College, 2007.

BA, Cornell University, 2002.

Recent Presentations

Goldstein, T.R. & Young, D.*. (2019, August). Theatrical Thinking: A Mixed Methods Study of Teacher Perceptions and Actual Classroom Strategies. American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Chicago, IL.

Kou, X., Konrath, S., & Goldstein, T.R. (2019, August). Arts engagement, prosocial traits, and prosocial behaviors. American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Chicago, IL.

Goldstein, T.R., *Thompson, B. (2019, July). The Role of Embodiment in Learning and Understanding Pretend Play: A Replication and Extension. Poster presented at the Guided Playful Learning Workshop at the Cognitive Science Society Conference. Montreal, Canada. *Poster Award Winner.

*Thompson, B. & Goldstein, T. R.  (2019, April) Pretend play: A systematic review of definitions, components, and measurement. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development. Baltimore, MD

*Thompson, B. & Goldstein, T. R.  (2019, April) Embodiment and Representation when Constructing Knowledge through Play—A Registered Replication and Extension. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

*Goldstein, T. R & *Thompson, B. &(2019, April) The Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Skills Taught in an Adolescent Theatre Classroom. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

*Thompson, B. & Goldstein, T. R. (2018, November).  Pretend play in early childhood programs: A case for evidence-based program implementation and researcher-practitioner partnerships.  Poster presented at Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Fall Research Conference, Washington, D.C.

Goldstein, T. R. (2018, November). Arts Education in the United States: National Education Policies for Arts Education and Studies on the Impact of Arts Education Experiences for Youth Development Using Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal, and Randomized Control Methods. Discussant. Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Research Conference. Washington, DC.

Goldstein, T.R. (2018, September). Learning from Two National Endowment for the Arts Research Labs. Arts Education Partnership Annual Convening. Indianapolis, Indiana.

Goldstein, T.R. (2018, August). Acting and Pretending: The Effects of Embodied Imagination on Social Skills.  As part of the Symposium: Engaging the Body 2020: Setting an Embodiment Agenda in Psychology, American Psychological Association, Annual Convention, Division 10, San Francisco, CA.

Goldstein, T. R. & *Thompson, B. (2018, August). Ensemble building within youth theater programs: Alignment of research and practice. American Psychological Association, Annual Convention, Division 10, San Francisco, CA.

*Oberndorf, M. & Goldstein, T.R. (2018, August) Creating, maintaining, and releasing character: predicting burnout in actors. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association.

*Young, D., Rosenthal, L., & Goldstein, T.R. (2018, August). Psychosocial Trajectories of Change Across A Drum Corps Marching Season. Poster presented at the American Psychological Assocaition.

*Thompson, B. & Goldstein, T. R. (2018, May). Ensemble Building in Educational Contexts: What Can We Learn from Theater Instruction? Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science, Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA

Paterson, S. J., Lerner, M. D., Goldstein, T. R., Toub, T. S., Golinkoff, R., &  Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2018, May). Acting out in Public School: How a Theatre Program Can Impact Imitation Skills in Children with ASDPoster presented at the International Society for Autism Research Annual Meeting, Rotterdam, Netherlands.   

Goldstein, T.R. (2018, January). Explanation and disbelief in children’s understanding of live versions of fictional characters. Poster presented at the Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary.

Goldstein, T.R. (2017, August). Imagination, Methods, Measures, and Achievements. Discussant for the symposium: The power of imagination: building emotion and creativity skills through art and play interventions. American Psychological Association, Annual Convention, Division 10, Washington DC.

Goldstein, T. R. (2017, May). Meeting Superman and Cinderella: Children’s Judgments of Live Versions of Fictional TV Characters. As part of the symposium: Reality Versus Fantasy: Fiction Exposure and Real-World Understanding. Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Boston, MA.

*Boyle, A. & Goldstein, T.R. (2017, April). Interactive Block Play and Spatial Skill Development . Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Convention. Austin, TX.

In the Media

Ongoing: Blog for PsychologyToday.com (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mind-stage)

Work featured on NPR’s Hidden Brain “You 2.0: Empathy Gym.” https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=744195502

Featured on CHSS Website on Scholar-in-Residence. https://chss.gmu.edu/articles/13252

Interviewed and quoted for Pacific Standard Article “Should Animals Win Acting Oscars? A Pacific Standard Investigation” (January 3, 2019). https://psmag.com/news/oh-you-have-got-to-be-kitten-me-no-animals-should-not-win-acting-oscars

Research feature by Child Trends (December 21, 2018)

      http://www.wtvm.com/2019/01/03/positive-parenting-where-will-your-childs-imagination-go-today/

Research on Dramatic Pretend Play Games featured on Columbia University and University of Michigan’s “Research Connections” newsletter. (October, 2018). https://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/new-researcharchive#anchor36662

Interviewed and quoted in the New York Times on Empirical Research in the Arts  (July 8, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/arts/design/do-you-like-dogs-playing-poker-science-would-like-to-know-why.html

Interviewed for Culture File Pod, Lyric FM, Dublin, Ireland (June 2, 2018). https://soundcloud.com/soundsdoable/culture-file-social-skills-imagination-and-theatre

Interviewed for Le Petit Mort issue on empathy. (April 2, 2018)

Urbo.com: Psychological aspects of television and movie spoilers.  (February 12, 2018) http://www.urbo.com/content/do-spoilers-actually-ruin-stories

Science News.org https://www.sciencenews.org/article/kids-play-fantasy-reality (February 6, 2018)

CNN: Children’s understanding of Santa Claus http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/health/kids-santa-claus-belief-parent-curve-intl/index.html (December 13, 2017).

Questions of Realness (August, 2017). Blog for Junkyard of the Mind. https://junkyardofthemind.com/blog/2017/8/14/questions-of-realness

Urbo.com: The effects of living space comparison (August 19, 2017). http://www.urbo.com/content/unrealistic-portrayals-of-tv-characters-lives-could-affect-how-you-view-the-world-and-yourself

Vice Magazine: Santa Claus. (March 25, 2017). https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-stop-believing-in-god

“Science.dk” (Danish online magazine) interview on Theory of Mind and Literature (January, 2017). http://videnskab.dk/kultur-samfund/en-god-bog-er-alligevel-ikke-en-hurtig-empati-booster

The Atlantic. “Reading Literature Won’t Give you Superpowers” http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/12/should-psychologists-study-fiction/509405/ (December, 2016)

Time Magazine: Theory of Mind and Literature http://time.com/4547332/reading-benefits/ (October 28, 2016)

 “Brainwaves Video Anthology” series. (July 25, 2016). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVSvyq9XYz4&feature=youtu.be; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KCO0Tjzqjo

New York Magazine blog “The Science of Us”. (July 21, 2016). “A Kid’s World Is a Pleasing, Confusing Mash-up of Magic and Reality” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/07/to-a-kid-the-world-is-a-pleasing-mashup-of-magic-and-reality.html

Articulate with Jim Cotter (July 7, 2016). WHYY, Philadelphia. http://whyy.org/cms/articulate/roberto-lugo-all-the-worlds-a-stage-hao-yang/

Creating their own Worlds: Arts and Learning. (May, 2016). Blog for The Brookings Institute. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2016/06/03/creating-their-own-worlds-arts-and-learning/

Interviewed for Mente &Cervello (Mind/Scientific American, Italian edition) (January 14, 2016).

Featured in Backstage Magazine, (May 14, 2015). “How not to Psych yourself out pre-audition”. http://www.backstage.com/interview/how-not-psych-yourself-out-preaudition/

Featured on “All About Psychology” website (March 3, 2015). http://www.all-about-psychology.com/thalia-goldstein.html

Interviewed on the Leonard Lopate show, WNYC, 93.9. (January 16, 2015). “Inside the Mind of an Actor” http://www.wnyc.org/story/inside-mind-actor/

 “How Actors Create Emotions: A Problematic Psychology” (March, 2014) for The Atlantic Health.http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/how-actors-create-emotions-a-problematic-psychology/284291/ 

“Why we love big fighting robots”. (July 13, 2013). The Culture Blog, Esquire Magazine. http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/pacific-rim-robot-movies?click=main_sr

 “Scientific Explanations for Why Spoilers are so Horrible” (March 21, 2013) The Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/03/scientific-explanations-for-why-spoilers-are-so-horrible/274227/

“People you should know”: Radio/Podcast (February, 2013) http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pysk/2013/02/04/people-you-should-know

 “Why She Cries at Movies, While He Snores: New research finds men and women feel sympathy for fictional characters for different reasons.” (September, 2012) Pacific Standard Magazine (http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/why-she-cries-at-movies-while-he-snores-46912/) *Picked up by artsjournal.com

 “Using Theater to Teach Social Skills: Researchers document improvements for children with autism” (January, 2012) Harvard Education Letter http://www.hepg.org/hel/article/521