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Kaylin Ratner

Key Professional Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, Cornell University

M.A., Clinical Psychology, University of Central Florida

B.S., Psychology (Honors), University of Central Florida

A.A., Psychology, Daytona State College


Research & Service

Ratner studies how adolescents and emerging adults reconcile their senses of identity, purpose, and meaning in life. She is particularly interested in how these psychosocial processes interface with mental health. Ratner's research tends to ask one of three questions:

  1. How do achievements and disruptions in identity, purpose, and meaning inform well-being?
  2. How do experiences with psychopathology affect one’s senses of who they are and where they are going in life?
  3. How do educational contexts and experiences (e.g., the transition to and through college, out-of-school time programs) shape psychosocial development?

Some of Ratner's most recent work focuses on derailment (i.e., the sense of being "off-course" in life) and its relation to depressive symptoms. Ratner looks forward to continuing to map the nuances of derailment, including its range of predictors and outcomes. Building from her translational research experiences with the New York State 4-H program, Ratner also maintains an active partnership with GripTape, an out-of-school time program that provides self-driven learning opportunities to teens across the country. Ratner is excited to continue such partnerships, exploring how supportive environments aid young people with the cultivation of identity and self-direction.

Ratner is director of the Self and Psychological Well-being (SAP) Lab. More information about Ratner's research can be found on the SAP Lab website.


Jeon, H. J., Ratner, K., & Wang, Q. (2023). The effects of labelling and health identity on subjective health. British Journal of Health Psychology, 28(1), 174-187.  link >

Ratner, K., Li, Q., Zhu, G., Estevez, M., & Burrow, A. L. (2023). Daily Adolescent Purposefulness, Daily Subjective Well-Being, and Individual Differences in Autistic Traits. Journal of Happiness Studies, 24(3), 967-989.  link >

Ratner, K., Zhu, G., Li, Q., Estevez, M., & Burrow, A. L. (2023). Interacting with supportive adults predicts greater same-day psychosocial functioning among adolescents in a self-driven learning program. Journal of Adolescence, 95(4), 729-739.  link >

Burrow, A. L., Ratner, K., Porcelli, S., & Sumner, R. (2022). Does Purpose Grow Here? Exploring 4-H as a Context for Cultivating Youth Purpose. Journal of Adolescent Research, 37(4), 471-500.  link >

Pfund, G. N., Ratner, K., Allemand, M., Burrow, A. L., & Hill, P. L. (2022). When the end feels near: sense of purpose predicts well-being as a function of future time perspective. Aging and Mental Health, 26(6), 1178-1188.  link >

Ratner, K., Burrow, A. L., Mendle, J., & Hill, P. L. (2022). A prospective study of college student depressive symptoms, sense of purpose, and response to a COVID-19 campus shutdown. Personality and Individual Differences, 189, Article 111475.  link >

Ratner, K., Burrow, A. L., Mendle, J., & Thoemmes, F. (2022). Derailment and Depression in College: Tests of 3-Year Predictive Capacity and Moderation by Self-Reflection, Brooding, Perfectionism, and Cognitive Flexibility. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 70(2), 212-222.  link >

Ratner, K., Burrow, A. L., Thoemmes, F., & Mendle, J. (2022). Invariance of the Derailment Scale-6: Testing the Measurement and Correlates of Derailment Across Adulthood. Psychological assessment, 34(4), 320-331.  link >

Ratner, K., Porcelli, S. E., & Burrow, A. L. (2022). Purpose in life, urgency, and the propensity to engage in risky and self-destructive behaviors. Motivation and Emotion, 46(1), 59-73.  link >

Rosenfeld, D. L., Balcetis, E., Bastian, B., Berkman, E. T., Bosson, J. K., Brannon, T. N., Burrow, A. L., Cameron, C. D., Chen, S., Cook, J. E., Crandall, C., Davidai, S., Dhont, K., Eastwick, P. W., Gaither, S. E., Gangestad, S. W., Gilovich, T., Gray, K., Haines, E. L., ... Tomiyama, A. J. (2022). Psychological Science in the Wake of COVID-19: Social, Methodological, and Metascientific Considerations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17(2), 311-333.  link >

Ratner, K., & Burrow, A. L. (2021). Derailment within the landscape of psychopathology. Current Opinion in Psychology, 41, 21-27.  link >

Ratner, K., Burrow, A. L., Burd, K. A., & Hill, P. L. (2021). On the conflation of purpose and meaning in life: A qualitative study of high school and college student conceptions. Applied Developmental Science, 25(4), 364-384.  link >

Berman, S. L., Montgomery, M. J., & Ratner, K. (2020). Trauma and identity: A reciprocal relationship? Journal of Adolescence, 79, 275-278.  link >

Burrow, A. L., Hill, P. L., Ratner, K., & Fuller-Rowell, T. E. (2020). Derailment: Conceptualization, measurement, and adjustment correlates of perceived change in self and direction. Journal of personality and social psychology, 118(3), 584-601.  link >

Jeon, H. J., Wang, Q., Burrow, A. L., & Ratner, K. (2020). Perspectives of future health in self and others: The moderating role of culture. Journal of Health Psychology, 25(5), 703-712.  link >

Ong, A. D., Thoemmes, F., Ratner, K., Ghezzi-Kopel, K., & Reid, M. C. (2020). Positive affect and chronic pain: a preregistered systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain, 161(6), 1140-1149.  link >

Ratner, K., Burrow, A. L., & Hill, P. L. (2020). Autistic Traits and Purpose in Emerging Adulthood: Associations with Pathways to Purpose and Perceived Adult Status. Emerging Adulthood, 8(5), 420-427.  link >

Ratner, K., Burrow, A. L., & Mendle, J. (2020). The unique predictive value of discrete depressive symptoms on derailment. Journal of Affective Disorders, 270, 65-68.  link >

Ratner, K., Mendle, J., Burrow, A. L., & Thoemmes, F. (2019). Depression and Derailment: A Cyclical Model of Mental Illness and Perceived Identity Change. Clinical Psychological Science, 7(4), 735-753.  link >

Ratner, K., & Burrow, A. L. (2019). Identity and purpose in life as building blocks for wisdom. In The Cambridge Handbook of Wisdom (pp. 515-550). Cambridge University Press.  link >

Burrow, A. L., Hill, P. L., Ratner, K., & Sumner, R. (2018). A Better Tomorrow: Toward a Stronger Science of Youth Purpose. Research in Human Development, 15(2), 167-180.  link >

Ratner, K., & Burrow, A. L. (2018). Autistic features in the general population: Implications for sensing purpose in life. Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(5), 494-501.  link >

Burrow, A. L., Hill, P. L., & Ratner, K. (2016). Purpose. In R. J. R. Levesque (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Adolescence (pp. 1-10). Springer.  link >

Ratner, K., & Berman, S. L. (2016). Identity boundaries: An empirical perspective. Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 89-92.  link >

Ratner, K., Burrow, A. L., & Thoemmes, F. (2016). The effects of exposure to objective coherence on perceived meaning in life: A preregistered direct replication of Heintzelman, Trent & King (2013). Royal Society Open Science, 3(11), Article 160431.  link >

Ratner, K., & Berman, S. L. (2015). The Influence of Autistic Features on Identity Development in Emerging Adults. Emerging Adulthood, 3(2), 136-139.  link >

Berman, S. L., Ratner, K., Cheng, M., Li, S., Jhingon, G., & Sukumaran, N. (2014). Identity Distress During the Era of Globalization: A Cross-National Comparative Study of India, China, and the United States. Identity, 14(4), 286-296.  link >


Co-chair, Identity Issues Topic Network, Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (2020 - present)

CoE Public Engagement Faculty Fellow 2023-24


In terms of departmental division, Ratner is affiliated with both Developmental Sciences and Counseling Psychology. She often teaches:

EPSY 405 / PSYC 465 - Personality and Social Development

EPSY 590 - Late Adolescence and the Transition to Adulthood


EPSY 490: Developments in Educational Psychology (EPSY 490) Foundational theories and practices of educational psychology, including learning and development.

EPSY 590: Advanced Seminar in Educational Psychology (EPSY 590) Seminar in educational psychology; topics relate to the areas of specialization represented by the various divisions within the department.