Charlotte Patterson

Patterson, Charlotte J

Primary Appointment


Contact Information

P O Box 400400
Dept of Psychology, 312 Gilmer Hall,
Charlottesville, VA 22904
Telephone: 434 924 0664

Research Disciplines


Research Interests

The psychology of sexual orientation, with an emphasis on sexual orientation, human development, and family lives.

Research Description

Charlotte J. Patterson is a Professor in the UVA Department of Psychology and in the Center for Children, Families, and the Law, and is Director of UVA’s interdisciplinary program, Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS). Her research focuses on the psychology of sexual orientation, with an emphasis on sexual orientation, human development, and family lives. In the context of her research, Patterson has worked with children, adolescents, couples, and families; she is best known for her studies of child development in the context of lesbian- and gay-parented families.

UNLEASH (Undergraduate Research)

Our research focuses on issues related to sexual orientation, human development, and family lives. How does sexual orientation influence family formation and family lives? How is this affected by the legal and public policy climates in which children, youth, and families live? These are some questions under study in our group. Several studies are underway now.
In one current study, we are working with a group of adoptive families, in which parents are lesbian, gay or heterosexual couples. We are interested in learning more about family processes, contextual factors, and child development in these families. They were studied when the children were preschoolers, and they have just been revisited when the children were in elementary school. We hope to learn how the lives of these parents and their children unfold over time.
In another set of projects, we are investigating the sexual and reproductive health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. This research aims to understand sexual minority experiences with reproductive health services, infertility, and assisted reproductive technologies. Future work in this area will involve interacting with sexual minority-identified adolescents, so as to determine psychosocial influences on their reproductive health and family planning over time.
We welcome the involvement of motivated, organized, efficient, and friendly undergraduate students as part of our research team. Research assistants usually work closely with a graduate student, and their duties may include reading original research studies, preparing materials for new studies, recruiting participants, transcribing and coding data, and assisting in data analysis. There are also opportunities for advanced RAs to develop their own projects.

Selected Publications