Jessica Stern

Postdoctoral Research Associate | Grossmann, Vaish and Allen labs

Office Address

Office:  219 Gilmer Hall


2019 Ph.D. in Psychology, University of Maryland

2012 B.A. in Psychology (summa cum laude), Pomona College

Research Interests:

How do social relationships shape human health, wellbeing, and social behavior across the lifespan? My research examines attachment relationships as a lens to understand individual differences in empathy, prosocial behavior, brain development, and physical health from infancy through adulthood. I'm especially interested in the cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms by which social experiences (with parents, friends, and romantic partners) get "under the skin" to shape human development. Current projects examine the role of social experiences in shaping young children's empathy, helping behavior, and moral judgments of environmental harm.

Selected Publications:

  • Borelli, J. L., Stern, J. A., Smiley, P. A., Marvin, M. J., Pettit, C., & Samudio, M. (in press). Mentalization and empathy among parents of school-aged children: Charting the space between. Emotion.

  • Stern, J. A., Botdorf, M., Cassidy, J., & Riggins, T. (2019). Empathy and hippocampal volume in young children [Special issue]. Developmental Psychology, 55, 1908-1920. 

  • Ehrlich, K B., Stern, J. A., Eccles, J. S., Dinh, J. V., Hopper, E. A., Kemeny, M. E., Adam, E. K., & Cassidy, J. (2019). A preliminary investigation of attachment style and inflammation in African American young adults [Special issue]. Attachment & Human Development, 21, 57–69.

  • Stern, J. A., Fraley, R. C., Jones, J. D., Gross, J. T., Shaver, P. R., & Cassidy, J. (2018). Developmental processes across the first two years of parenthood: Stability and change in adult attachment style. Developmental Psychology, 54, 975–988.

  • Stern, J. A., & Cassidy, J. (2018). Empathy from infancy to adolescence: An attachment perspective on the development of individual differences. Developmental Review, 47, 1–22.

  • Cassidy, J., Stern, J. A., Mikulincer, M., Martin, D. R., & Shaver, P. R. (2018). Influences on care for others: Attachment security, personal suffering, and care recipient characteristics. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 574–588.

  • Gross, J., Stern, J. A., Brett, B., & Cassidy, J. (2017). The multifaceted nature of prosocial behavior in children: Links with attachment theory and research. Social Development, 26, 661-678.

  • Cassidy, J., Brett, B. E., Gross, J. T., Stern, J. A., Martin, D. R., Mohr, J., & Woodhouse, S. S. (2017). Circle of Security—Parenting: A randomized controlled trial in Head Start [Special issue]. Development & Psychopathology, 29, 651–673.

  • Shaver, P. R., Mikulincer, M., Gross, J. T., Stern, J. A., & Cassidy, J. (2016). A lifespan perspective on attachment and care for others: Empathy, altruism, and prosocial behavior. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research and clinical applications (3rd ed., pp. 878–916). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

  • Stern, J. A., Borelli, J. L., & Smiley, P. A. (2015). Assessing parental empathy: A role for empathy in child attachment. Attachment & Human Development, 17, 1–22.


Society for Personality and Social Psychology Small Climate Research Grant, 2020-2021

Society for Research in Child Development Dissertation Funding Award, 2018-2019

Milton Dean Havron Social Sciences Award, University of Maryland, 2018

National Science Foundation GRFP Fellowship, 2015-2018

University of Maryland Flagship Fellowship, 2014-2019