Faculty Profile

Robert Ricco

  • Professor; Department Chair
  • Ph.D., Temple Universtiy, 1987
  • Child Development and General Experimental Psychology Programs
  • Specialty in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Development

Contact Information:

Office: SB-425

Education and Professional Employment:

Dr. Ricco received his B.A. in psychology from New York University in 1980 and his Ph.D. in developmental psychology in 1987 from Temple University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the City University of New York Graduate Center from 1986 to 1988 and held the position of visiting assistant professor at Vassar College from 1988 to 1992. He has been a member of the psychology department at CSUSB since 1992.

Research and Teaching Interests:

Dr. Ricco is active in writing and research - including student training and mentoring - and in teaching courses within the Psychology and Human Development undergraduate majors and the Child Development (M.A.) graduate program.

Primary Research Program: Reasoning

  • Development of deductive (logical) and inductive forms of reasoning in childhood and adolescence.
  • Reasoning and sociolinguistic processes involved in argumentation.
  • Dual process theories of cognition and cognitive development with a special emphasis on analytical (type 2) processes and predispositions.
  • Relational developmental systems perspective on reasoning.

Secondary Research Program: Parent Cognition

  • Parent cognition including parent beliefs about knowledge, learning, and development, and parents' motivational goals and expectations for their children.
  • The relevance of parents' beliefs, goals, and expectations for their parenting practices and for children's attitudes toward school.

Course Offerings:


Critical Thinking through Problems Analysis (105)

Developmental Psychology (201)

Psychology of Middle Childhood (320)

Cognitive Development (358)

Social and Personality Development (384)

Advanced Seminar in Developmental Psychology (421)

Advanced Experimental Psychology: Developmental (431)


Advanced Cognitive Development (651).

Advanced Middle Childhood and Adolescent Development (646).

Graduate Seminar in Developmental Psychology (655).

Representative Publications:

Ricco, R. B. (in press). Relational developmental systems. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.) Sage Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ricco, R. B., & Sierra, A. (in press). Argument beliefs mediate relations between attachment style and conflict tactics. Journal of Counseling and Development.

Ricco, R. B. (in press). Development of deductive reasoning. In A. Dick and U. Müller (Eds), Advancing Developmental Science: Philosophy, Theory, and Method. New York: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis.

Ricco, R. B. & Sierra, A. (2016). Judging the implications of a concession: Conversational distance and belief bias effects. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69 (6), 1129–1144, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17470218.2015.1070885.

Ricco, R. B. (2015). Epistemic doubt during adolescence. In J.D. Wright (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences (2nd Edition), Vol 7 (881-886). Oxford, UK: Elsevier

Ricco, R. B. (2015). Development of Reasoning. In R.M. Lerner (Editor-in-Chief) and L.S. Liben and U. M. Müller (Volume Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th Edition), Volume 2: Cognitive Processes. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Ricco, R. B., & Overton, W. F. (2011). Dual systems competence-procedural processing: A relational developmental systems approach to reasoning. Developmental Review, 31, 119-150.

Ricco, R. B. (2011). Individual differences in distinguishing licit from illicit ways of discharging the burden of proof. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 616-631.

Ricco, R. B., & Sierra, A. N. (2011). Individual differences in the interpretation of commitment in argumentation. Argumentation, 25(1), 37-61.

Overton, W. F., & Ricco, R. B. (2010). Dual-systems and the development of reasoning: Competence-procedural systems. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science. DOI: 10.1002/wcs.120

Ricco, R. B. (2010). The development of deductive reasoning across the lifespan. In W. F. Overton (Ed.), Biology, cognition, and methods across the life-span. Volume 1 of the Handbook of life-span development, Editor-in-chief: R. M. Lerner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Ricco, R. B., Schuyten Pierce, S., & Medinilla, C. (2010). Epistemic beliefs and achievement motivation in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 30(2), 305-340.

Ricco, R. B., Sabet, S., & Clough, C. (2009). College mothers in the dual roles of student and parent: Implications for their children's attitudes toward school. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 55(1), 79-110.

Ricco, R. B. (2008). The influence of argument structure on judgments of argument strength, function, and adequacy. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(4), 641-664.

Ricco, R. B. (2007). Individual differences in the analysis of informal reasoning fallacies. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32, 459-484.

Ricco, R.B., & Rodriguez, P. (2006). The relation of personal epistemology to parenting style and goal orientation in college mothers. Social Psychology of Education, 9, 159-178.

Ricco, R. B. (2003). The macrostructure of informal arguments: A proposed model and analysis. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 56A(6), 1021-1051.

Ricco, R. B., McCollum, D., and Schuyten, S. (2003). College mothers' academic achievement goals as related to their children's attitudes toward learning. Social Psychology of Education, 6, 325-347.

Ricco, R. B. (2002). Analyzing the roles of challenge and defense in argumentation. Argumentation and Advocacy: Journal of the American Forensic Association, 39(1), 1-22.

Ricco, R. B. (1997). The development of proof construction in middle childhood. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 66, 279-310.

Ricco, R. B., McCollum, D., and Wang, J. (1997). Chldren's judgments of certainty and uncertainty on a problem where the possible solutions differ in likelihood. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 158(4), 401-410. Overton, W. F., Foltz, C., and Ricco, R. B. (1995). Proof construction: Adolescent development from inductive to deductive problem solving strategies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 59, 179-195.

Ricco, R. B. (1993). Revising the logic of operations as a relevance logic: From hypothesis testing to explanation. Human Development, 36, 125-146.

Ricco, R. B., and Beilin, H. (1992). Operativity and the superordinate categorization of artifacts. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 54, 334-354.

Ricco, R. B. (1990). Necessity and the logic of entailment. In W. F. Overton (Ed.), Reasoning, necessity, and logic: Developmental Perspectives. Hillsdale, N.J.: LEA.

Ricco, R. B. (1989). Operational thought and the acquisition of taxonomic relations involving figurative dissimilarity. Developmental Psychology, 25, 996-1003.

Current Projects:

Conflict detection in reasoning on the Wason Selection Task (with Hideya Koshino and Anthony Sierra).

Relational developmental systems perspective on reasoning.


Dr. Ricco is currently serving as Department Chair. The Psychology faculty are widely recognized for their research and their exceptional mentoring of students, many of whom have continued their education at well-respected Master’s and doctoral programs in psychology, human development, education, social work, and neuroscience. If you are interested in learning more about our department and its award-winning faculty, please contact Dr. Ricco.