Faculty » Tuppett Yates

I am a clinical and developmental psychologist conducting translational research within the integrative paradigm of developmental psychopathology. Adopting this perspective, my work emphasizes the mutually informative connections between studies of normative and atypical development, and between developmental research and clinical practice. To this end, in the Adversity & Adaptation Lab, I examine how adversity broadly, and child maltreatment in particular, influences developmental pathways toward psychopathology and competence. Employing diverse methods (e.g., behavioral observation, clinical interview, survey) with children and adolescents, my research centers on identifying the specific effects of childhood adversity across multiple levels of adaptation and influence (e.g., community, family, individual, physiological), as well as the developmental processes that underlie the emergence and patterning of these effects over time. I am especially interested in social and regulatory developmental processes, including attachment and representations of self, others, and relationships, and behavioral and emotional regulation.

Pathways toward Maladaptation and Psychopathology

The first branch of my research focuses on the deleterious impact of early adversity on socioemotional development. In previous studies, I have examined the specific contribution of intimate partner violence to child and adolescent behavior problems above and beyond other risk factors, including poverty, physical abuse, and life stress. Moving beyond the identification of specific effects, my developmental process studies focus, for example, on the explanatory role of emotion dysregulation and a sense of alienation from interpersonal connections in understanding observed pathways between different kinds of child maltreatment and later behavior problems. In recent work, I have focused on the traumatic etiology of self-injurious behavior (e.g., cutting, burning), and its role as a regulatory strategy that compensates for trauma-induced dysregulation.

Pathways toward Competence and Resilience

While maladaptation is one possible consequence of early adversity, pathways toward competence or better-than-expected adaptive outcomes (i.e., resilience) are equally intriguing (and informing). Therefore, the second branch of my research focuses on developmental processes underlying positive developmental pathways among at-risk youth. In addition to theoretical writings, this work includes current studies that employ factor analytic and multivariate longitudinal analyses across multiple methods and informants to explore processes of continuity and change in competence over time and in consideration of various risk and protective factors. My work in this area aims to bridge the gap between empirical research about risk and protective processes and applied efforts to foster positive development. This translational work is critical because it enables scholarly research to have real-world impact and because interventions can inform theory by testing empirically derived hypotheses about processes of change and continuity.

Current Research Projects

The Childhood Representation and Regulation Project (ChiRRP): This project aims to understand the specific relations between how children think and feel about themselves, others, and relationships (i.e., representation) and various indices of regulation (e.g., emotional, behavioral, physiological, and interpersonal). This study is in the data collection and pilot analysis stage. 4-year-old children are drawn from various agencies, particularly those serving low-income or at-risk families. Joined by their caregivers, children are evaluated in the Adversity and Adaptation Lab using behavioral observations of the child in a series of tasks and of caregiver-child interactions. In addition, questionnaire and interview data are gathered from the child, caregivers, and teachers. This study aims to address core questions about the relation between representation and regulation, if and how these relations may vary as a function of early childhood experience, and how they affect children’s early socioemotional and academic functioning. Future expansions of this work will include longitudinal follow-up at age 6 and the incorporation of biological measures, including cortisol assays.

Adapting to Aging Out: Risk and Resilience among Former Foster Youth (AAO): This study will launch this fall with a diverse sample of high-risk adolescents (ages 17-21) to explore the experiences of youth transitioning out of the foster care system and into adult independence, a process commonly referred to as “aging out.” This is a mixed methods longitudinal study that will focus on trajectories of education, employment, health and relationships among transition-age youth. Interviews are collected on an annual basis, in addition to objective reports from youths’ friends, school records, and ultimately child protection records.

The Young Adult Adaptation Study (YAAS): This survey study will be completed in the winter of 2008 with a sample of ~2700 college students. The survey focuses on adverse life events in childhood, various symptoms related to traumatic experience, and adaptation with respect to age-salient developmental issues in young adulthood, including relationships with peers, partners, and family, and adjustment to school and work. Data are gathered via the individual administration of questionnaires to students drawn from the UCR participant pool. This study aims to understand if and how childhood experiences influence pathways toward and away from specific (mal)adaptive outcomes (e.g., substance use, self-injury, eating disorders, relationship quality, school achievement).

Together, these projects will further our understanding of socioemotional development, emotional, behavioral and physiological regulation, and the interactions between them in typically and atypically developing populations. Although the core focus of my research is child maltreatment, I am also interested in other at-risk pediatric populations (e.g., children struggling with non-relational adversity such as chronic illness, or children exposed to political violence and forced migration). Through the concurrent examination of processes that underlie pathways toward psychopathology and competence following childhood adversity, my research is designed to test and illustrate core developmental principles, including the salience of early experience, the probabilistic coherence of successive adaptations, and the transactional nature of interactions between developmental systems. At the level of application, this work elucidates strategic targets and timing for interventions, informs methods to effect positive developmental change, and extends current deficit-based models of intervention to include competence and strength-based approaches.

Selected Publications

Yates, T. M., & Wekerle, C. (Eds.). (in press). Special section: The long-term consequences of childhood emotional maltreatment on development: (Mal)adaptation in adolescence and young adulthood: Child Abuse & Neglect.

Yates, T. M., Carlson, E. A., & Egeland, B. (2008). A prospective study of child maltreatment and self-injurious behavior. Developmental and Psychopathology, 20. 651-671.

Yates, T. M., Tracy, A. J., Luthar, S. S. (2008). Nonsuicidal self-injury among "privileged" youth: Longitudinal and cross-sectional approaches to developmental process. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76. 52-62.

Yates, T. M. (2007). The developmental consequences of child emotional abuse: A neurodevelopmental perspective. Journal of Emotional Abuse. 9-34.

Yates , T. M. (2004). The developmental psychopathology of self-injurious behavior: Compensatory regulation in posttraumatic adaptation. Clinical Psychology Review, 24(1), 35-78.

Yates , T. M., & Masten, A. S. (2004). Fostering the future: Resilience theory and the practice of positive psychology. In P. A. Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive Psychology in Practice (pp. 521-539). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.