Carl Johnson

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Carl Johnson

Carl Johnson

University of Pittsburgh
5941 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-624-6942

Faculty - Joint/Secondary

Carl Johnson is a facuty member in Applied Developmental Psychology.

He received his doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota in Child Psychology in 1976, focused on cognitive development.

Having long investigated children’s concepts of mind and body, Dr. Johnson has recently turned attention to the development of religious and spiritual concepts like “soul” and “spirit”. His recent work, with graduate students, includes cross-national studies of the concept of “vital energy” or “life force”, as reflecting biological and spiritual understanding. He as also been working to inaugurate a new field of “developmental contemplative science”, with the aim of understanding how developmentally appropriate mindful practices may promote self-regulation in children and youth. In this field he is developing a study of young children’s capacity to attend to their breath and thoughts. And, he working on a project to integrate contemplative principles and practices in the education of teachers and other professionals who work with children and youth.

Dr. Johnson regularly teaches a seminar in the field of spiritual development or developmental contemplative science. He is always interested in collaborating with students with interests in these fields. However, he does not currently have funding to support new doctoral students.

School Affiliations


  • Bucknell University

    B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy
  • University of Minnesota

    Ph.D. in Institute of Child Development


Recent Presentations

  • Mindfulness and metacognition: Children’s awareness of thinking and breathing.

    May 31, 2014

    Satlof-Bedrick, E. & Johnson, C. N.  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society. San Francisco, CA.

  • Fred Rogers and the Circle of Care

    Jun 10, 2013

    Presentation at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, continuing education conference on "Mr. Rogers and the Psychology and Spirituality of Children". Pittsburgh, PA

  • Mindfulness in Children: Developing Awareness of Breathing and Thinking

    Jun 6, 2013 - Jun 8, 2013

    Emma Satlof-Bedrick & Carl N. Johnson. Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Chicago, Illinois.

  • Does Vitalism Extend Beyond the Domain of Biology?: Chinese Children's Understanding of Vital Energy.

    Apr 18, 2013

    Melanie Nyof; Maira Roazzi; Carl N. Johnson. Presentation at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. Seattle, Washington


Recent Publications