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Monica Tsethlikai

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Associate Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 3701

Monica Tsethlikai is a former William T. Grant Scholar, a Native Children's Research Exchange Scholar and the recipient of two Ford Fellowships. She is an enrolled member of the Zuni tribe. Prior to obtaining her doctorate degree, her on-the-ground involvement in juvenile justice led to her interest in studying children's cognitive development as embedded within their social and cultural contexts and biosocial stresses. She uses a process model approach to examine how children’s daily activities and stressful life experiences impact executive function development and both directly and indirectly influence well-being.  Currently, she is conducting research among urban American Indian youth to examine whether active engagement in American Indian cultural and spiritual activities buffers the known negative effects of toxic stress on the development of executive functions. She is also exploring relations among stressful life experiences, stress physiology (using hair cortisol), and trauma symptoms in this population. She is an assistant professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and teaches SOC 390 Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences and CDE 232 Human Development.

Tsethlikai graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1991 followed by eight years as a youth counselor and juvenile probation officer. She obtained a master's degree in Indigenous Nations studies in 2001 and doctorate in psychology (cognitive and quantitative) in 2005 from the University of Kansas. She completed a postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California, Santa Cruz, under the direction of Professor Barbara Rogoff followed by a position at the University of Utah - both positions were in psychology.

  • Ph.D. Psychology (Cognitive and Quantitative), University of Kansas 2005
  • M.A. Indigenous Nations Studies, University of Kansas 2001
  • B.A. Psychology (second major: Japanese), University of Notre Dame 1991
Research Interests: 

My research examines cultural, contextual and cognitive factors that promote positive youth development. Community factors such as housing and neighborhood quality are studied in relation to stress physiology (cortisol levels in hair) as risk factors that potentially impair the development of executive functions (basic cognitive skills that promote the development of logical thinking, good planning skills, and adaptability) and memory. I am also interested in how children's daily activities shape brain development with a special focus on cultural activities.


Ayers, S., Kulis, S., & Tsethlikai, M. (2017). Assessing Urban American Indian’s parenting skills? A confirmatory factor analysis of previously validated measures. Journal of Community Psychology, 45(2), 230-249. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21844.

Kulis, S., & Tsethlikai, M. (2016) Urban American Indian youth spirituality and religion: A latent class analysis. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 55(4), 677-697. doi: 10.1111/jssr.12298.

Morgan, C. Sibthorp, J., & Tsethlikai, M. (2016) Fostering self-regulation skills in youth: Examining the effects of a mentoring curriculum in a summer recreation program. Leisure Sciences, 38(2), 161-178. Doi: 10.1080/01490400.2015.1083496.

Tsethlikai, M. (2015). The cultural patterning of cognitive development: Invited commentary on Allen and Lalonde. Human Development, 58(2), 97-102. doi:

Research Activity: 

Tsethlikai, M. An Examination of Cultrual Cognitive Mechanisms Facilitating Positive Youth Development in American Indian Communities. (7/1/2014 - 6/30/2018).

Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
SOC 390Social Statistics I
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
SOC 390Social Statistics I
CDE 531Theoretical Issues Child Devel
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
CDE 232Human Development
SOC 390Social Statistics I
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
SOC 390Social Statistics I
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CDE 232Human Development
SOC 390Social Statistics I
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
SOC 390Social Statistics I
IED 394Special Topics
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
SOC 390Social Statistics I
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
CDE 232Human Development
  • Tsethlikai. M. and Price, T. Partnering with Mesa Public Schools Native American Education Program to improve educational outcomes and the well-being of Native American children and youth. Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center Community Advisory Board Meeting (Dec 2015).
  • Tsethlikai, M. Participation in cultural and family activities promotes positive development in American Indian Children. Youth-Nex "Youth of Color Matter" Conference (Oct 2015).
  • Tsethlikai, M. Active participation in family and cultural activities promotes positive development in middle childhood. Native Children’s Research Exchange Conference (Sep 2015).
  • Tsethlikai, M. Culture, Context, and Cognitive Development. ASU Counseling and Counseling Psychology Brown Bag Talks (Feb 2015).
  • Tsethlikai, M. Active engagement in traditional cultural practices and positive development in American Indian Children. Native Children's Research Exchange Conference (Sep 2013).
  • Correa-Chavez, M., Tsethlikai, M., & Rogoff, B. Rural and Urban American Indian children’s attention to other’s activities. Society for Research in Child Development Conference (Apr 2013).
  • Administration for Children and Families Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, Contributing researcher to The Way Forward I, II, & III: ACF Research with American Indians and Alaska Native (2014 - Present)
  • Graduate Committee, committee member (2015 - present)
  • US DHHS Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning and Research Evaluation, AIAN FACES workgroup member (2013 - present)
  • American Indian College Fund, Consultant (2011 - 2015)