Jay Belsky

Jay Belsky
University of California, Davis | UCD · Department of Human Ecology

Ph.D. Human Development

About

544
Publications
312,239
Reads
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55,793
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2011 - December 2012
University of California, Davis
July 1999 - December 2012
Birkbeck, University of London
January 1991 - December 2008

Publications

Publications (544)
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort ( n = 10,700), we evaluate indirect effects − via parent negative psychology and harsh-inconsistent parenting − of income harshness, unpredictability, and their interaction on kindergarteners’ socioemotional development. Income harshness is operationalized as the typical level...
Article
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Two extant frameworks – the harshness-unpredictability model and the threat-deprivation model – attempt to explain which dimensions of adversity have distinct influences on development. These models address, respectively, why, based on a history of natural selection, development operates the way it does across a range of environmental contexts, and...
Article
Recent dimensional models of adversity informed by a neurobiological deficit framework highlights threat and deprivation as core dimensions, whereas models informed by an evolutionary, adaptational and functional framework calls attention to harshness and unpredictability. This report seeks to evaluate an integrative model of threat, deprivation, a...
Article
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The prospective research presented herein extends work on parent and peer effects on adolescent psychosocial adjustment by looking beyond average effects. Instead, it considers variation in susceptibility to each source of influence in order to assess the extent to which those individuals most and least susceptible to parent effects are similarly—o...
Article
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La théorie et les recherches sur l’attachement sont utilisées dans de nombreux cadres d’application, y compris dans les tribunaux compétents en matière familiale [1], mais les incompréhensions sont fréquentes et sources d’erreurs lorsqu’il s’agit de les mettre en pratique. L’objectif de cet article de consensus est donc d’accroître la compréhension...
Article
Objective: Relationship education programs have proven effective in promoting relationship quality and preventing divorce among married couples. However, according to theories of Environmental Sensitivity, people differ for genetic reasons in their sensitivity to environmental influences with some more affected by both negative and positive experi...
Article
Background Youth are increasingly engaged in digital games; while physical activity rates are declining. This study examines whether the amount of time children spend on gaming is related to physical activity and athletic self-esteem. Method At ages 8, 10, 12, and 14, a community sample of children (n = 751, 379 girls) was interviewed about how of...
Article
La teoría y la investigación sobre el apego se utilizan en muchos contextos aplicados, incluidos los juzgados de familia, pero hay malentendidos muy extendidos y que a veces dan lugar a aplicaciones erróneas. El objetivo de este documento de consenso es, por lo tanto, mejorar la comprensión, contrarrestar la desinformación y dirigir el uso de la te...
Article
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This study focused on generality versus specificity of susceptibility of effects of eight family and child-care exposures measured between 3 and 54 months of age (e.g., sensitive parenting, child-care quality) on five child development outcomes assessed at age 4.5 years (e.g. behavior problems, preacademic skill), using data from The National Insti...
Article
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Differential susceptibility theory stipulates that individuals vary in their susceptibility to environmental effects, often implying that the same individuals differ in the same way in their susceptibility to different environmental exposures. The latter point is addressed herein by evaluating the extent to which early-life harshness and unpredicta...
Article
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We review the three prevailing approaches—specificity, cumulative risk, and dimensional models—to conceptualizing the developmental consequences of early-life adversity and address fundamental problems with the characterization of these frameworks in a recent Perspectives on Psychological Science piece by Smith and Pollak. We respond to concerns ra...
Article
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Prior research indicates that unintended pregnancy is associated with poorer maternal well-being, decreased relationship stability, and compromised child health and development, whereas prenatal father engagement is linked to lower maternal stress and enhanced infant health. Here we extend such research, considering unintended pregnancy and prenata...
Chapter
The negative effects of prenatal stress on child wellbeing have been extensively documented. Here we consider a radically different perspective—that prenatal stress promotes postnatal developmental plasticity (Pluess M, Belsky J, Develop Psychopathol 23:29–38, 2011). We begin by outlining the differential-susceptibility hypothesis. Next, we describ...
Article
Full-text available
Differential susceptibility theory stipulates that some children are more susceptible than others to both supportive and adverse developmental experiences/exposures. What remains unclear is whether the same individuals are most affected by different exposures (i.e., domain general vs. specific). We address this issue empirically for the first time...
Article
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Here we evaluate whether infant difficult temperament (6 months) functions as a vulnerability or more general plasticity factor when investigating effects of early-childhood parenting (8–42 months) on both positive and negative early-adolescent socioemotional development (age 8–11 years). Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and C...
Article
Full-text available
Attachment theory and research are drawn upon in many applied settings, including family courts, but misunderstandings are widespread and sometimes result in misapplications. The aim of this consensus statement is, therefore, to enhance understanding, counter misinformation, and steer family-court utilisation of attachment theory in a supportive, e...
Article
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Background Given associations linking early life adversity, pubertal timing, and biological aging, we examined the direct and indirect effects of early life trauma on adult biological aging (via age of menarche). Methods Participants were premenopausal women (N = 183). Path models evaluated whether early life trauma predicted early pubertal timing...
Preprint
Full-text available
We review the three prevailing approaches—specificity, cumulative risk, and dimensional models— to conceptualizing the developmental consequences of early-life adversity and address fundamental problems with the characterization of these frameworks in a recent Perspectives on Psychological Science piece by Smith and Pollak (2020). We respond to con...
Article
Full-text available
Some Gene × Environment interaction (G×E) research has focused upon single candidate genes, whereas other related work has targeted multiple genes (e.g., polygenic scores). Each approach has informed efforts to identify individuals who are either especially vulnerable to the negative effects of contextual adversity (diathesis stress) or especially...
Article
Full-text available
Background Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is highlighted as a condition for further study in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM‐5). Some studies indicate that IGD appears comorbid with other psychiatric disorders. We examine concurrent and prospective links between symptoms of IGD and symptoms of common psy...
Article
The dysregulation of the inflammatory response, including pro‐inflammatory molecules, produces neuropsychiatric symptoms and depression‐like behavior, including withdrawal from the physical and social environment. Genetic variants that enhance immune reactivity may thus increase inflammatory and withdrawn reactions to stress. Here we investigated a...
Article
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The general factor of psychopathology (GP, or p factor) and the Dysregulation Profile (DP) are two conceptually similar, but independently developed approaches to understand psychopathology. GP and DP models and their stability, antecedents and outcomes are studied in a longitudinal sample of 1073 children (49.8% female). GP and DP models were esti...
Article
Telomeres are the protective DNA-protein sequences appearing at the ends of chromosomes; they shorten with each cell division and are considered a biomarker of aging. Shorter telomere length and greater erosion have been associated with compromised physical and mental health and are hypothesized to be affected by early life stress. In the latter ca...
Article
Evidence documenting associations between 5-HTTLPR and parenting behavior led to testing the hypothesis that this polymorphism moderates the effect of the quality of environmental context on maternal sensitivity. Participants were 210 Portuguese mothers and their preschool children, recruited from the community. An index reflecting the quality of t...
Article
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Emerging evidence suggests that prenatal stress does not solely undermine child functioning but increases developmental plasticity to both negative and positive postnatal experiences. Here we test this proposition using the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study while implementing an extreme-group (i.e., high vs. low prenatal stress) design (n = 2...
Article
This study extends research on the effects of institutionalization-by examining the trajectories of cognitive, language and motor development of 64 Portuguese infants and toddlers across the first six months of institutionalization, while determining whether pre-institutional adversities and the stability and consistency of institutional care predi...
Article
Although maternal postpartum depressive symptoms (PDS) are associated with child behavior problems, the underlying biological mechanisms are poorly understood. Thus, the current study focused on 193 healthy mother-child dyads and investigated child cortisol and telomere length as potential mediating factors. At 3 and 6 months postpartum, mothers re...
Article
Personality disorder (PD) symptomatology is characterized by interpersonal problems and emotional dysregulation, which may affect offspring of parents with PD symptoms. Notably though, studies are needed to discern (i) whether parental PDs forecast symptoms of psychiatric disorders in offspring during their childhood years and (ii) whether such pro...
Article
Full-text available
Electronic games are popular and many children spend much time on this activity. Here we investigate whether the quantity of time children spend on gaming is related to their social development, making this the first study to examine this relationship in children. We examine prospective relations between time spent gaming and social competence in a...
Article
Most developmental work regards adverse developmental experiences as forces that undermine well-being. Here, I present an alternative—or complementary—view, summarizing recent evidence on puberty, endocrinology, cellular aging, and brain connectivity that collectively reveals developmental acceleration in response to contextual adversity. Findings...
Article
According to prominent models of child development, parental factors may contribute to individual differences in children's executive functioning (EF). Here, we examine the relative importance of parents’ socio‐economic status, mental health, and parenting as predictors of EF development, drawing on a large (n = 1,070) community sample of Norwegian...
Article
Individuals with the short variant of the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region gene are more susceptible than individuals homozygous for the long allele to the effects of stressful life events on risk for internalizing and externalizing problems. We tested whether individual differences in coping style explained this increased risk for p...
Article
Full-text available
Separate fields of inquiry indicate (a) that prenatal stress is associated with heightened behavioral and physiological reactivity and (b) that these postnatal phenotypes are themselves associated with increased susceptibility to both positive and negative environmental influences. Collectively, this work supports Pluess and Belsky's (Psychopatholo...
Article
Full-text available
Two separate lines of inquiry indicate (a) that prenatal stress is associated with heightened behavioral and physiological reactivity, and (b) that these postnatal phenotypes are associated with increased susceptibility to both positive and negative developmental experiences and environmental exposures. This research considered together raises the...
Article
The oxytocinergic system is a primary biological system involved in regulating a child's needs for bonding and for protection from threats. It is responsive to social experiences in close relationships, though evidence across studies is not entirely consistent. Guided by previous literature, we investigated individual and environmental factors pred...
Article
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As traditional teaching methods may fail to serve children with special needs, special education (SE) services aim to compensate for the shortcomings of conventional schooling. However, despite of numerous studies on the effectiveness of SE services, the influence of potential selection bias remains a real challenge, and only a few studies have app...
Article
This research investigates whether and how two fundamental environmental factors-harshness and unpredictability-interact in regulating child and adolescent development, informed by life-history theory and drawing on data from the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 1,364). Earl...
Article
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Objective Frequent co-occurrence and bidirectional longitudinal associations have led some researchers to question the boundaries between depression and anxiety. A longitudinal investigation of the interconnected symptom structure of these constructs may help determine the extent to which they are distinct, and whether this changes over development...
Article
Background: The relationship between pubertal onset and tempo and pubertal growth is controversial. We hypothesized that the age at onset of girls' puberty predicts pubertal tempo and the rate of pubertal progression. Methods: We analysed the data of 380 girls from the prospective Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD), who wer...
Article
A recent article in this journal reported a number of gene × environment interactions involving a serotonin transporter–gene network polygenic score and a composite index of prenatal adversity predicting several problem behavior outcomes at 48 months (e.g., anxious/depressed, pervasive developmental problems) and at 60 months (e.g., withdrawal, int...
Article
Full-text available
Two sets of evidence reviewed herein, one indicating that prenatal stress is associated with elevated behavioral and physiological dysregulation and the other that such phenotypic functioning is itself associated with heightened susceptibility to positive and negative environmental influences postnatally, raises the intriguing hypothesis first adva...
Article
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is presumed to be a consequence of social neglect and deprivation of the kind particularly associated with institutional care. Despite its clinical relevance there is a lack of assessment tools for RAD based on the direct observation of child–caregiver interaction. Here we describe the development and validation o...
Article
Full-text available
Background Insecure attachment in infancy is associated with a range of later socioemotional problems; therefore, it is important to identify at‐risk children so that support can be provided. However, there are currently no well‐validated brief measures of infant attachment. The aim of this study is to create a brief version of the Attachment Q‐Sor...
Preprint
Full-text available
Currently, two main approaches exist to distinguish differential susceptibility from diathesis-stress and vantage sensitivity in genotype × environment interaction (G×E) research: Regions of significance (RoS) and competitive-confirmatory approaches. Each is limited by their single-gene/single-environment foci given that most phenotypes are the pro...
Data
Table S1. Means (SD), construct reliability (H), and standardized factor scores at age 2. Table S2. Means (SD), construct reliability (H), and standardized factor scores at age 3. Table S3. Means (SD), construct reliability (H), and standardized factor scores at age 5. Table S4. Means (SD), construct reliability (H), and standardized factor scor...
Article
Full-text available
Internet gaming disorder (IGD) was included in the Addendum to DSM-5 as a condition for further study. Studies of community samples using a diagnostic interview are lacking, and evaluations of the proposed symptoms, comorbidities, and predictors of IGD are scarce. To provide such information participants in a Norwegian prospective community study w...
Article
Children’s eating behavior influences energy intake and thus weight through choices of type and amount of food. One type of eating behavior, food responsiveness, defined as eating in response to external cues such as the sight and smell of food, is particularly related to increased caloric intake and weight. Because little is known about the potent...
Article
Students of child development and of psychopathology have long been interested in how person characteristics (e.g. genotype, temperament) might moderate the effect of environmental exposures (e.g. harsh parenting, negative life events) on development. Historically, most such research on person × environment interaction has been guided by diathesis-...
Article
Full-text available
Developmental plasticity is a widespread property of living organisms, but different individuals in the same species can vary greatly in how susceptible they are to environmental influences. In humans, research has sought to link variation in plasticity to physiological traits such as stress reactivity, exposure to prenatal stress-related hormones...
Article
Full-text available
Two separate lines of research indicate (a) that prenatal stress is associated with heightened behavioral and physiological reactivity and (b) that these postnatal phenotypes are associated with increased susceptibility to both positive and negative developmental experiences. Therefore, prenatal stress may increase sensitivity to the rearing enviro...
Article
Full-text available
Currently, two main approaches exist to distinguish differential susceptibility from diathesis-stress and vantage sensitivity in genotype x environment interaction (GxE) research: Regions of significance (RoS) and competitive-confirmatory approaches. Each is limited by their single-gene/single-environment foci given that most phenotypes are the pro...
Article
Full-text available
To illuminate which features of an unpredictable environment early in life best forecast adolescent and adult functioning, data from two longitudinal studies were examined. After decomposing a composite unpredictability construct found to predict later development, results of both studies revealed that paternal transitions predicted outcomes more c...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Recent research indicates that the best-fitting structural model of psychopathology includes a general factor capturing comorbidity (p) and several more specific, orthogonal factors. Little is known about the stability of these factors, although two opposing developmental processes have been proposed: dynamic mutualism suggests that sy...
Article
Full-text available
A wealth of evidence documents associations between various aspects of the rearing environment and later development. Two evolutionary-inspired models advance explanations for why and how such early experiences shape later functioning: (a) the external-prediction model, which highlights the role of the early environment (e.g., parenting) in regulat...
Article
There is a growing appreciation that child functioning in different domains, levels, or systems are interrelated over time. Here, we investigate links between internalizing symptoms, externalizing problems, and academic attainment during middle childhood and early adolescence, drawing on two large data sets (child: mean age 8.7 at enrolment, n = 5,...
Poster
The oxytocinergic system is regarded as a main biological system regulating child’s needs for bonding and protection from threats (Insel, 2010). It develops in the context of the mother–infant relationship, and has been shown to respond to close interactions (e.g., Feldman et al., 2010), though evidence across studies is not entirely consistent (e....
Article
Full-text available
Background: Childhood psychiatric disorders and their symptoms evince both within-disorder (homotypic) and between-disorder (heterotypic) continuities. These continuities may be due to earlier symptoms causing later symptoms or, alternatively, that the same (unknown) causes (e.g., genetics) are operating across time. Applying a novel data analytic...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research suggests that parenting affects children's relationships, including those with teachers, although there is variation across individuals in such effects. Given evidence suggesting that oxytocin may be particularly important for the quality of social relationships, we tested the hypotheses (a) that change in parenting from 4 to 6 years...
Article
Full-text available
In view of the theory that the attachment relationship provides a foundation for the development of emotion regulation, here, we evaluated (a) whether change in attachment security from 4 to 6 years predicts change in emotion regulation from 6 to 8 years and (b) whether 5-HTTLPR moderates this relation in a Norwegian community sample (n = 678, 99.7...
Article
Full-text available
Research consistently chronicles a variety of mental health difficulties that plague institutionally reared children, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), even if not all institutionalized children evince such problems. In seeking to extend work in this area, this research on gene × environment (GXE) interplay investigated whe...
Article
Full-text available
Mental health booklets may provide a low-cost means of promoting mental health self-management and help seeking in schools. The aim of the study was to assess the (a) use, (b) acceptability and (c) impact of booklets for students in primary (10–11 years) and secondary school (12–13 years) alone and in conjunction with funding for targeted mental he...
Article
Intervention efforts aimed at remediating or preventing problems in children typically prove only moderately effective due to substantial heterogeneity in their efficacy. It thus becomes important to account for such variation in intervention efficacy. Here we summarize illustrative evidence that, due to their genetic make-up, some children benefit...
Article
Full-text available
Peer problems are linked to ADHD-symptoms and the serotonin system is thought to be involved in ADHD-related behavior. Hence, from a gene-x-environment perspective, we examined whether the serotonin transporter 5-HTTLPR moderated the effect of peer problems on the development of later hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms. In study 1, involving 642 No...
Chapter
The book reviews the history of policies pertaining to child health and well-being which preceded and set the stage for Sure Start. It provides insight into how Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) were expected to function and how they actually operated, in terms of their strengths and weaknesses and costs. It also demonstrates their impact on chil...