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Virginia Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Middlebury College. She joined the psychology department in Fall of 2020. Dr. Thomas earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (with an emphasis in Feminist Studies), an MA in Depth Psychology at Sonoma State University, and a BS in Psychology from University of Evansville.
As a developmental psychologist, Dr. Thomas studies social and emotional development throughout the lifespan, with two ongoing lines of research. First, she examines the role of solitude in identity development and psychological well-being. This research identifies key differences in loneliness and solitude, explores how solitary engagement with social media and digital devices affects well-being, and investigates the skills necessary to use solitude constructively. In a second line of research, Dr. Thomas explores the identity work that occurs during developmental transitions, especially the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Previous work has examined emerging adults’ social class identity and religious identities, and she is currently examining the identity work that occurs during “sojourn” - when people work, travel, or study abroad. Dr. Thomas specializes in mixed methods research, with an emphasis on conducting interviews and analyzing narratives using a variety of qualitative methods.
Thomas, V. (2023). The psychological affordances of solitude in emerging adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, 11(3), 611-625. doi/10.1177/21676968231151982
Smith, J. L., Thomas, V., & Azmitia, M. (2023). Self-determined solitude buffers the association between negative motivations for solitude and maladjustment among older adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 202. doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2022.111992
Azmitia, M., Garcia Peraza, P. D., Thomas, V., Ajay, A. A., & Syed, M. (2023). The promises and challenges of using intersectionality to study identity development during adolescence and early adulthood. In L. J. Crockett, G. Carlo, & J. E. Schulenberg (Eds.), APA Handbook of Adolescent and Young Adult Development, (pp. 391-405).
Thomas, V. (2023). Solitude skills and the private self. Qualitative Psychology, 10(1), 121-139. doi.org/10.1037/qup0000218
Smith, J., Thomas, V., & Azmitia, M. (2023). Happy alone? Motivational profiles of solitude and well-being among senior living residents. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 96(3):312-334. doi.org/10.1177/00914150221112283
Thomas, V., Balzer Carr, B., Azmitia, M., & Whittaker, S. (2021). Alone and online: Understanding the relationships between social media, solitude, and psychological adjustment. Psychology of Popular Media, 10(2), 201–211. https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000287
Thomas, V., & Azmitia, M. (2019). Motivation matters: development and validation of the motivation for solitude scale–short form (MSS-SF). Journal of Adolescence, 70, 33-42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2018.11.004
Thomas, V. & Azmitia, M. (2016). Tapping into the app: Updating the Experience Sampling Method for the 21st century. Emerging Adulthood, 4 (1), 60-67. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696815618489
Thomas, V., Azmitia, M., & Whittaker, S. (2016). Unplugged: Exploring the costs and benefits of constant connection. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 540-548. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.078
Azmitia, M. & Thomas, V. (2015). Intersectionality and the development of self and identity. In R. Scott & S. Kosslyn (Eds.), Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1-9, Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118900772.etrds0193
Thomas, V. & Azmitia, M. (2014). Does class matter? Examining the centrality of social class identity for emerging adults. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 14 (3), 195-213. https://doi.org/10.1080/15283488.2014.921171