My interest in child development is centered on issues concerning the etiology of the emerging individuality of the child, in particular, on developmental forces contributing to the rise of pronounced individual differences in cognitive and behavioral-emotional functioning. The contextual framework of my research is that of the developmental niche. I define developmental niche as the most elementary unit that forms an indivisible contextual structure for child development and conceptualize it in terms of five major subsystems that function together as a larger system. The five components are (1) the physical setting in which the child grows; (2) the cultural, societal, and social settings in which the child lives; (3) customs of child care; and (4) the bio-psychological profiles (sets of individual biological and psychological characteristics) of the child; and (5) of the caregiver.
Currently my research is progressing in three directions: (1) understanding the role of the biological make-up of the child and his/her parents in the child's development (specifically, my work on specific reading disability and autism); (2) understanding the impact of large-scale societal changes on child development (specifically, my work on the adaptive and maladaptive behaviors of Russian youth); and (3) understanding the role of the physical setting in which the child grows (my research investigating the impact of the Chernobyl catastrophe's aftermath on the developmental pathways of the children affected by the explosion). What holds these seemingly diverse strands of research together is my integration of them as studies at different structural levels of the developmental niche. I seek to study the developmental niche as a holistic complex system rather than as mere isolated components.