Professor Putnam specializes in social development. He teaches a survey course in child development, a lab in developmental research methods, introduction to psychology, and a seminar in social development. His research interests involve exploring interactions between nature and nurture in the development of sensation seeking, negative emotionality, and attentional control.
Professor Putnam's is currently working on two large-scale projects in this area. Along with Maria Gartstein of Washington State University, he is directing the Joint Effort Toddler Temperament Consortium (JETTC), a study involving researchers from 14 countries who have gathered data on parents' goals for socializing their children, the daily activities in which children participate, and children's social and emotional behavior. His other current effort is the Global Temperament Project (GTP), which aims to coordinate data collected by over 200 researchers in over 50 countries to gain a comprehensive perspective on how children differ around the world.