Kristin Bernard, Ph.D.
University of Delaware (2013) Assistant Professor, Clinical Psychology
Child maltreatment; Neurobiological consequences of early life adversity; Parent-child relationships; Early parenting interventions; Psychobiology of parenting and attachment
Children who experience early adversity, such as neglect, abuse, and disruptions in
care, are at heightened risk for later problems across socioemotional, behavioral,
and physical health domains. Dr. Bernard’s research investigates how early life stress
influences children’s neurobiological and behavioral development and how optimal caregiving
and preventative interventions may buffer at-risk children from problematic outcomes.
In order to ask these translational questions, Dr. Bernard integrates ideas and methods
across fields of developmental psychology, neurobiology, and prevention science.
In an effort to understand how chronically stressful conditions in early life “get under the skin,” Dr. Bernard examines multiple biomarkers of early adversity, such as HPA axis regulation (i.e., diurnal cortisol production) and cellular aging (i.e., telomere shortening). Even in the face of early adversity, some children show remarkable resilience. Responsive parenting may serve as a protective factor for these children, buffering them from the physiological changes associated with early adversity. Dr. Bernard combines methods of behavioral observation and psychophysiology (e.g., event-related potentials) to examine specific aspects of parental behavior (e.g., sensitivity to distress, parent-child synchrony) that appear to play a critical role in early childhood. Taken together, these research efforts aim to inform models of risk and resilience following early life stress, as well as enhance efforts to tailor parenting interventions for children at risk.
Bernard, K., Simons, R., Dozier, M. (2015). Effects of an attachment-based intervention on high-risk mothers’ event-related potentials to children’s emotions. Child Development, 86, 1710-1718.
Bernard, K., Zwerling, J., & Dozier, M. (2015). Blunted diurnal cortisol mediates the association between maltreatment risk and externalizing behavior. Developmental Psychobiology, 57,947.
Bernard, K., Hostinar, C., & Dozier, M. (2015). Intervention effects on diurnal cortisol rhythms of CPS-referred infants persist into early childhood: Preschool follow-up results of a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatrics, 169, 112-119.
Bernard, K., Peloso, E., Laurenceau, J-P., Zhang, Z., & Dozier, M. (2015). Examining change in cortisol patterns during the 10-week transition to a new childcare setting. Child Development, 86, 456-471.
Bernard, K., Dozier, M., Bick, J., & Gordon, M. K. (2015). Normalizing blunted diurnal cortisol rhythms among children at risk for neglect: The effects of an early intervention. Development and Psychopathology, 27, 829-841.
Lind, T., Bernard, K., Ross, E. K., & Dozier, M. (2014). Intervention effects on negative affect in CPS-referred children: Results of a randomized clinical trial. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38, 1459-1467.
Asok, A., Bernard, K., Rosen, J. B., Dozier, M., & Roth, T. L. (2014). Infant-caregiver experiences alter telomere length in the brain. PLOS ONE, 9, e101437.
Meade, E. B., Dozier, M., & Bernard, K. (2014). Using video feedback as a tool in training parent coaches: Promising results from a single-subject design. Attachment and Human Development, 16, 356-370.
Bernard, K., Meade, E. B., & Dozier, M. (2013). Parental synchrony and nurturance as targets in an attachment based intervention: Building upon Mary Ainsworth’s insights about mother-infant interaction. Attachment and Human Development, 15, 507-523.
Dozier, M., Zeanah, C., & Bernard, K. (2013). Infants and toddlers in the child welfare system. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 166-171.
Asok, A., Bernard, K., Roth, T., Rosen, J., & Dozier, M. (2013). Parental responsiveness moderates the association between early-life stress and reduced telomere length. Development and Psychopathology, 25, 577-585.
Bick, J., Dozier, M., Bernard, K., Grasso, D., & Simons, R. (2013). Foster mother-infant bonding: Associations between foster mothers’ oxytocin production, electrophysiological brain activity, feelings of commitment, and caregiving quality. Child Development.
Bernard, K., Dozier, M., Bick, J., Lewis-Morrarty, E., Lindhiem, O., & Carlson, E. (2012). Enhancing attachment organization among maltreated children: Results of a randomized clinical trial. Child Development, 83, 623-636.
Lewis-Morrarty, E., Dozier, M., Bernard, K., Moore, S., & Terraciano, S. (2012). Cognitive flexibility and theory of mind outcomes among foster children: Preschool follow-up results of a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51, 17-22.
Bernard, K., & Dozier, M (2011). This is My Baby: Foster parents’ feelings of commitment and displays of delight. Infant Mental Health Journal, 32, 251-262.
Lindhiem, O., Bernard, K., & Dozier, M. (2011). Maternal sensitivity: Within-person variability and the utility of multiple assessments. Child Maltreatment, 16, 41-50.
Bernard, K., Butzin-Dozier, Z., Rittenhouse, J., & Dozier, M. (2010). Young children living with neglecting birth parents show more blunted daytime patterns of cortisol production than children in foster care and comparison children. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164, 438-443.
Bernard, K., & Dozier, M. (2010). Examining infants’ cortisol responses to laboratory tasks among children varying in attachment disorganization: Stress reactivity or return to baseline? Developmental Psychology, 46, 1771-1778.
Sumner, M. M., Bernard, K., & Dozier, M. (2010). Young children's full-day patterns
of cortisol production on childcare days: Evidence for return to typical bedtime values.
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 164, 567-571.