Thalia R. Goldstein (EN)

Thalia R. Goldstein, PhD, is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Applied Developmental Psychology program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. Her work focuses on children’s engagement in pretend play, theatre, drama, and other imaginative activities, and how such activities intersect with children’s developing social and emotional skills, particularly theory of mind, empathy, and emotional control and regulation. She directs the Play, Learning, Arts, and Youth (PLAY) lab, which conducts research that looks at the effects of engaging in pretend play and theatre on children’s social-emotional skills, and at 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) and the co-editor of the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and featured on CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Her first book, Why Theatre Education Matters: Understanding the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Benefits will be published by Teacher’s College Press in July 2024.

Publications (selection):

  • Stutesman, M., Havens, J., & Goldstein, T.R. (2022). Developing Creativity and Other 21st Century Skills through Theatre Classes. Translational Issues in Psychological Science 8(1), 24–46. 
  • Goldstein, T.R., Stutesman, M. & Thompson, B. (2022). Moving with Puppets: Preschool Children’s Gesture with Puppets During Pretense. Cognitive Development, 63, 101198,
  • Goldstein, T. R., & Alperson, K. (2020). Dancing Bears and Talking Toasters: A Content Analysis of Supernatural Elements in Children’s Media. Psychology of Popular Media, 9(2), 214–223.
  • Goldstein, T.R., Young D.L. & Thompson, B. (2020) It’s All Critical: Acting Teachers’ Beliefs about Theatre Classes. Frontiers in Psychology, 11,775.
  • Goldstein, T.R. & Lerner, M. (2018). Dramatic Pretend Play Games Uniquely Improve Emotional Control in Young Children. Developmental Science, 21(4).
  • Goldstein, T. R., Lerner, M., D., & Winner, E. (2017). The Arts as a Venue for Developmental Science: Realizing a Latent OpportunityChild Development, 88, 1505-1512. 

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> Lecture at ZFICTION.24 | The Psychological Components of Acting Characters