2024 Colloquium Series Talk with Dr. Esther Leerkes

Start Date and Time
Event Location
North End Center 2420
Dr. Esther Leerkes

Please join us for Dr. Esther Leerkes's 2024 Colloquium Talk, "A Domain Specific Approach to the Study of Maternal Sensitivity,"  on Thursday, April 25th, 2024 from 3:30 - 4:40 PM in NEC 2420. 

About the speaker:

Dr. Esther Leerkes is the Jefferson Pilot Excellence Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and the Associate Dean for Research in the School of Health and Human Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Leerkes was trained as a developmental psychologist under the direction of Dr. Susan Crockenberg at the University of Vermont where she first discovered a passion for observational research with mothers and infants. She has published over 100 empirical papers and 10 chapters focused on maternal well-being, maternal sensitivity, mother-infant attachment, and infant temperament and the implications of each for child emotion regulation, behavior problems, school outcomes, and most recently childhood obesity. Dr. Leerkes is best known for asserting that how mothers respond to infant crying is a unique domain of sensitivity with antecedents and sequalae that differ from sensitivity to non-distress cues.

About the talk:

Beginning in 2001 with her dissertation work, Dr. Leerkes asserted that maternal sensitivity to infant distress is (a) distinct from maternal sensitivity to non-distress; (b) has different origins than sensitivity to non-distress and (c) is a unique predictor of infants’ subsequent social-emotional outcomes. She will share the results from 4 prior studies that provide empirical support for these assertions and describe the new directions of her current studies. The presented studies will include multiple methods such as careful observational coding of mother and infant behavior, the Adult Attachment interview, video recall interviews to assess maternal social cognition, physiological indices of mother and infant arousal and regulation, molecular genetics (i.e., specific genotypes functionally linked to cognitive and affective processes), and comprehensive questionnaires. Throughout the talk she will share key lessons learned about conducting developmental research.

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