Maria Wong joined Fuller as an assistant professor of psychology in 2011 after receiving her PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The theoretical framework that guides her research is attachment theory (Ainsworth et al., 1978; Bowlby, 1969/1972), which has important implications for children’s development across the lifespan. Dr. Wong’s research focuses on children’s social, emotional, and spiritual development within the context of family relationships. As children often first learn about God from their families, Wong’s first line of research thus examines the extent to which children’s relationships with their parents are related to their concepts of God, asking: Does the quality of the parent-child relationships affect the children’s perceived relationship with God? How do parents bring up God in their conversations with children?
Wong’s second and third lines of research focus on child development and family relationships in China. In one project, she and her collaborators will examine the well-being of migrant workers and children in China, seeking to learn more about factors that facilitate resilience and thriving. Another project is exploring the effectiveness of a marital enrichment program in China. Research has shown that marital conflict can undermine children’s emotional security (e.g., Davies & Cummings, 1994). As such, what are some specific ways to strengthen the marital bond? How effective are marital enrichment programs for Chinese couples, and what issues do they face? Finally, Wong hopes to learn more in future research about the indigenous side of child development in China using qualitative methods.
Wong and her colleague Dr. Joey Fung recently received a grant from the Louisville Institute for their research project titled “Finding the Zen between Church and Family Commitment of Chinese American Church Leaders,” which examines these questions: (1) What are some unique challenges that Chinese American church leaders face in their ministry? (2) How do they balance their ministry and family commitments, and what are the implications for their psychological well-being and family functioning? (3) How do researchers help these church leaders to achieve holistic well-being (by addressing their psychological and emotional needs), and to build strong, healthy families so that they can continue their good work in serving the Chinese American individuals, families, and communities? Data collection will begin in Fall 2013, so any students interested in being involved in this project should contact Dr. Wong soon.
Wong also joins Fuller’s efforts to build relationships with Chinese scholars, counselors, and pastors. Fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin, she travels to China with the Fuller team a few times per year.
Wong is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development, International Society on Infant Studies, and the American Psychological Association. She has published her research in journals such as the Journal of Family Psychology
and Attachment and Human Development
Wong lives with her husband, her toddler-age daughter, and two cats. She enjoys traveling, gourmet cooking, experiencing different cultures, and reading.
Areas of Expertise, Research, Writing, and Teaching:
Children’s social, emotional, and spiritual development; attachment
relationships, child temperament; parent-child narratives; family interactions;