I received my bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2008 at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia and my master's degree in Psychology in 2009 at Belgrade University, Serbia. I obtained my Advanced Practicum in Rationale Emotive Behavioral Psychotherapy at the Affiliated training center of Albert Ellis Institute in Belgrade after which I became a certified psychotherapist. I started my Ph.D. in 2013 at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam. I participated in the longitudinal project of prof. dr Susan Bögels on the intergenerational transmission of anxiety. My Ph.D. dissertation was focused on the development of social anxiety disorder (SAD). I investigated how fear and inhibition in social situations and how heightened self-conscious emotions (shyness, blushing) influence the development of children's SAD symptoms. I discovered that not only inhibited children but also children with heightened self-consciousness, that is, children who blush and children who express shyness in a negative way, are at risk for developing SAD symptoms. During my Ph.D. track, I visited the Psychotherapy and Emotion lab led by Dr. Stefan Hofmann at Boston University, US and the Center for Emotional Health led by Dr. Jennie Hudson at Macquarie University, Australia. I also received a Kind & Adolescent travel grant to visit Emotion & Self Lab at the University of British Columbia, Canada. My Ph.D. thesis was awarded cum laude in June 2017 and was voted among the best three Ph.D. theses in the Netherlands in the field of child psychology (biennial doctoral thesis award of VNOP). My doctoral work has also been recognized internationally by the European Association of Developmental Psychology and their George Butterworth Young Scientist Award. The award is awarded every two years “to young scholars who have made valuable contributions to the field of Developmental Psychology at an early stage of their career”. My recent post-doctoral work on neural mechanisms of self-conscious emotions in social anxiety has been supported by Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Talent grant. I collaborate with Dr. Disa Sauter, Dr. Ramon Lindauer, Dr. Christian Keysers, and Dr. Valeria Gazzola on this project. Since 2021, I have been appointed assistant professor in the developmental psychopathology group where I continue my work on the development, parental socialization, and social functions of children's self-conscious emotions supported by NWO Veni grant.
My research interests evolve around the development of social emotions and social cognition in children. I am interested in understanding how children feel in social situations, how they think about other people, and how these feelings and thoughts influence the onset of children's social problems on one hand and their social adjustment on the other hand. I investigate how social self-conscious emotions, such as shyness, shame, and guilt develop in toddlers and young children and how the disturbances in these emotions (for example, excessive or lack of shame) influence the occurrence of psychopathological symptoms (for example, anxiety and autistic traits) and social adjustment (for example, prosocial behaviors). I am also curious about understanding how children's understanding of other people and the social world influences their everyday social functioning.