Gail Melson

Melson, G. F. (2001). Why the Wild Things Are:  Animals in the Lives of Children.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.  Chinese edition, China Times Publishing Co., 2002; French edition, Les Animaux dans la Vie des Enfants, Paris:  Payot & Rivages, 2002. Selection of Les Grands Livres du Mois [French Book of the Month Club, 2003]; and Japanese edition, Being Net Press, 2007.

Fogel, A. & Melson, G. F. (1988).  Child Development: Individual, Family, and Society.  Minneapolis, MN: West Publishing Co.

Fogel, A. & Melson, G. F. (Eds.) (1986).  The Origins of Nurturance. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.

Melson, G. F. (1980). Family and Environment: An Ecosystem Perspective, Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing Co.



Dr. Melson’s research centers on understanding children’s development in its many contexts.  Children live in an interconnected world, tied not only to people, such as parents, relatives, teachers and friends, but also to the natural world of other animals, plants and ecosystems that support them.  Emerging technologies, such as robotic pets, add virtual reality to children’s experiences.  How do all these connections affect children?  How can children’s development be enriched through interactions with animals and nature?  How can children’s empathy, nurturance and moral sensitivity be developed through engagement with animals and nature?  These are some of the questions that Dr. Melson addresses in her work.

Representative publications include:

Children, animals and nature:

Melson, G. F. (2013). Children and wild animals. In P. H. Kahn, Jr., and P. H. Hasbach (eds.), The rediscovery of the wild. (pp. 93-117). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Melson, G. F. (2013). Children’s ideas about the moral standing and social welfare of non-human species.  Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 90, 81-106.

Melson, G. F. (2013). Children and animals. In H. Montgomery, (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Childhood Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Melson, G. F. (2011). Principles for human-animal interaction research. In P. McCardle, S. McCune, J. Griffin, & V. Maholmes, (eds.), How animals affect us: Examining the influence of human-animal interaction on child development and human health.(pp. 13-34). Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.

Melson, G. F. (2010). Play between children and domestic animals. In E. Enwokah, (ed.), Play as engagement and communication. (pp. 23-39). NY: University Press of America.

Melson, G. F. & Fine, A. (2010). Animals in the lives of children. In A. Fine (ed.), Handbook of Animal-Assisted Therapy. 3rd edition. (pp. 223-245). NY:Academic Press.

Melson, G. F. (2007). Children and animals. In M. Bekoff, ed., Encyclopedia of animal-human relationships (Vol. 1) (pp. 207-215). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Co.

Melson, G. F. (2007). Children in the living world: Why animals matter for children’s development. In A. Fogel & S. Shanker (eds.), Human development in the 21st century: Visionary ideas from systems scientists. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Enhancing empathy, nurturance and moral sensitivity:

Melson, G. F. (2000).  Companion animals and the emotional development of children:  Implications of the biophilia hypothesis.  In A. Fine (ed.), Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy.  NY:Academic Press.

Melson, G. F. & Fogel, A. (1996).  Parental perceptions of their children's involvement with household pets:  A test of a specificity model of nurturance.  Anthrozoos  9,  95-105.

Fogel, A., Melson, G. F., & Mistry, J. (1986). Conceptualizing nurturance: A reassessment of sex differences in nurturance.  In A. Fogel, & G. F. Melson  (eds.), The Origins of Nurturance. Hillsdale,NJ: Erlbaum.

Children and emerging technologies:

Melson, G. F. (2014). Building better robots: Lessons from observing relationships between living beings. Interaction Studies 15, 173-179.

Melson, G. F. (2013). Building a technoself: Children’s ideas about and behavior toward robotic pets. In R. Luppicini (Ed.),Handbook of research on the technoself: Identity in a technological society, (pp. 592-608). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Global publishers.

Melson, G. F. (2010). Child development robots: Social forces, children’s perspectives. Interaction Studies11, 227-232.

Melson, G .F., Kahn, P. H. Jr., Beck, A., & Friedman, B. (2009).  Robotic pets in human lives: Implications for the human -animal bond and for human relationships with personified technologies. Journal of Social Issues65, 545-567.

Melson, G .F., Kahn, P. H. Jr., Beck, A., Friedman, B., Roberts, T., Garrett, E., & Gill, B. (2009). Children's behavior toward and understanding of robotic and living dogs. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology30, 92-102.

Melson, G .F., Kahn, P. H., Jr., Beck, A.M., Friedman, B., Roberts, T., & Garrett, E. (2005). Robots as dogs? – Children’s interactions with the robotic dog AIBO and a live Australian Shepherd.  In Extended Abstracts of CHI 2005.  NY: ACM Press.

Parent-child relationships:

Bojczyk, K., Lehan, T. J., McWey, L. M., Melson, G. F., & Kaufman, D. R. (2011). Mothers' and adult daughters' perceptions of their relationship. Journal of Family Issues32, 452-481.

Melson, G. F., Windecker-Nelson, E., & Schwarz, R. L. (1998).  Support and stress in mothers and fathers of young children. Early Education and Development9 , 261-281.

Windecker-Nelson, E., Melson, G. F., & Moon, S. (1997).  Intellectually gifted preschoolers' perceived competence:  Relations to maternal attitudes, concerns, and support.  Gifted Child Quarterly 44, 133-144.

Melson, G. F., Hsu, H., & Ladd, G. W. (1993).  The parental support networks of mothers and fathers: a multidimensional approach.  Early Development and Parenting2, 169-182.

Melson, G. F., Ladd, G. W., & Hsu, H. (1993).  Maternal support networks, maternal cognitions and young children's social and cognitive development.  Child Development 64, 1401-1417.