Child smiling

Research within the Emotion Regulation and Temperament Lab primarily focuses on developmental trajectories of emotion, emotion regulation and temperament in children between the ages of 4 months to 5 years as well as the implications of these trajectories for developmental psychopathology. Projects frequently consider:

  • Contextual influences (e.g., parenting) that affect emotion, emotion regulation and temperament development across time.
  • How these constructs influence others (e.g., parents).
  • Behavioral outcomes associated with emotion, emotion regulation and temperament (e.g., social competence, behavioral difficulties).
  • Physiological indicators of emotion regulation (e.g. heart rate variability, respiratory sinus arrhythmia).
  • Health outcomes related to emotion, emotion regulation and temperament (e.g. BMI).
  • Physiological indicators of stress and stress reactivity (e.g., cortisol, alpha amylase).

Research within the lab also encompasses parent-infant and parent-child interactions.

Current Projects

Response to Infant Cry

The primary goal of this investigation was to pilot and implement a new procedure for investigating how parents respond to high levels of stimuli that reflect infant distress. Beginning in the fall of 2009, college students were used as participants to pilot the project and in the spring of 2010, parents, primarily mothers, began participating in this project as part of their involvement in the Infant and Toddler Emotion Regulation Project. We were particularly interested in how characteristics of participants, both physiological and behavioral, influence their responses to stimuli (i.e. crying) associated with infant distress in a simulated laboratory situation.

Data collection for the Response to Infant Cry study was completed in May 2014, with analyses currently ongoing.

Infant and Toddler Emotion Regulation Project

Early developmental trajectories of emotion regulation and related constructs have implications for diverse outcomes such as behavioral difficulties, social competence and early academic readiness. Furthermore, preliminary evidence also indicates that early emotion regulation has implications for the emergence of more effortful forms of regulation in the toddler period. The goal of this project is to conduct a comprehensive longitudinal investigation of emotion regulation as well as related temperament characteristics in a sample of infants and toddlers.

Recruitment, targeting families with infants, began in spring 2010. Primary caregivers and their children participate when children are 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24 and 32 months of age. Children and caregivers engage in a variety of fun tasks aimed at measuring aspects of emotion regulation, temperament, developmental outcomes and social competence.

Collectively, this project addresses and/or extends a number of important questions related to early development of emotion regulation (e.g., what factors influence trajectories of this and related constructs) as well as the implications of early emotion regulation for important developmental outcomes in the toddler and early preschool period.

Parenting in Emerging Adults in Response to Contextual Risk, Stress Reactivity and Self Regulation (PEARSS)

The primary goal of this study is to examine the interplay between early contextual stress and self-regulation (e.g., executive functioning, emotion regulation) in relation to behavioral, physiological (e.g., RSA, blood pressure) and biomarker (e.g., cortisol, alpha amylase) responses to high levels of infant distress. Recruitment of college students to participate in this multi-method design study began in the fall of 2016 and is currently ongoing.