Dr. Kathryn Humphreys is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. She has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and expertise in infant and early childhood mental health and developmental neuroscience. Her research program includes both basic and applied work, and she has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on child development, adversity, and caregiving. Her work is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and private foundations. Dr. Humphreys has received several early career awards, including the NSF CAREER Award, the NIMH Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (NIMH BRAINS) award, and the Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science.
Areas of Expertise (11)
Tender Age Detainment Centers
Infants and Toddlers
Parent Child Separations
Trauma in Youth
Stress and Early Adversity
Jacobs Foundation Early Career Research Fellow (professional)
Michael J. Goldstein Distinguished Dissertation Award in Clinical Psychology, UCLA (professional)
Association for Psychological Science (APS) “Rising Star” Award (professional)
National Psychologist Trainee Register Credentialing Scholarship (professional)
Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD) Young Scientist Award (professional)
University of California: Ph.D., Clinical Psychology 2014
University of California: M.A., Psychology 2009
Harvard Graduate School of Education: Ed.M., Risk and Prevention 2006
Vanderbilt University: B.S., Child Development and Cognitive Studies 2005
- Provost search committee member, Stanford University
- Society of Clinical Psychology (Division 12 of the APA)
- Psychology in Action
Selected Media Appearances (7)
Mom Guilt is Real—And Here are 13 Ways to Overcome It in Any Situation
Parent guilt happens when you don’t meet those goals or standards that you’ve built up in your mind, even if you know on some level that they’re not attainable. “When parents feel that they are falling short of their expectations or goals, guilt is a normal emotional response,” says Kathryn Humphreys, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education and Human Development.
Human-rights groups are urging the Biden administration to get children out of the makeshift Border Patrol facilities
"Even short stays in detention centers have the potential to be traumatic experiences," said Kathryn Humphreys, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University.
Quarantine Diaries: How I Stopped Feeling Guilty About ‘Me Time’ During the Pandemic
arent guilt happens when you don’t meet those goals or standards that you’ve built up in your mind, even if you know on some level that they’re not attainable. “When parents feel that they are falling short of their expectations or goals, guilt is a normal emotional response,” says KathrynHumphreys, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education and Human Development.
What happened to American childhood?
The Atlantic online
When I spoke with Kathryn L. Humphreys, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in the effects of caregiving in early life, she observed a widespread hesitancy to talk about depressing concepts with kids. Parents seem to feel that doing so is “developmentally inappropriate,” she mused, though this strikes her as exactly backwards given what we know about the benefits of graduated exposure to things that frighten us. Humphreys listens to the news after work, and her 4-year-old daughter will often ask tough questions. She told me she understands why people are concerned about having difficult conversations with kids, and yet, she asked, “At what age is it that you think kids are capable of that?” Scary things are happening all the time, and avoiding them—“We’re just gonna turn off the news!” as she put it—won’t change that. “Sometimes it’s the avoidance that makes it harder for kids who are anxious,” she added.
A 4-month-old baby was separated from his parents at the border last year and still can't walk or speak. Experts say he could grow up with trauma he has no memory of experiencing.
Kathryn L. Humphreys, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who studies psychology and early childhood development, said the bulk of Constantin's trauma would likely have been experienced not when he was separated from his birth parents, but when he was reunited with them.
What a typical day is like for a child in government custody at a Texas Border Patrol station
Kathryn L. Humphreys, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who studies psychology and early childhood development, said those reactions are unsurprising. Typically, institutionalized children who lack a parent or close caregiver often already suffer negative health outcomes. But to couple the lack of adults with an additional lack of basic needs such as toothbrushes, soap, and diapers was "horrific," she said.
The children who have been detained in appalling conditions at the border could bear scars from the experience for life, experts say
Kathryn L. Humphreys, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who studies psychology and early childhood development, told INSIDER that many people wrongly think children can survive and thrive if only their basic needs like food, shelter, sanitation, and medical care are met.
Selected Articles (3)
Irritability and Brain Volume in Adolescents: Cross-sectional and Longitudinal AssociationsSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Emily L Dennis, Kathryn L Humphreys, Lucy S King, Paul M Thompson, Ian H Gotlib
2019 Irritability is garnering increasing attention in psychiatric research as a transdiagnostic marker of both internalizing and externalizing disorders. These disorders often emerge during adolescence, highlighting the need to examine changes in the brain and in psychological functioning during this developmental period.
Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder in Early Childhood Predicts Reduced Competence in Early AdolescenceJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Katherine L Guyon-Harris, Kathryn L Humphreys, Devi Miron, Mary Margaret Gleason, Charles A Nelson, Nathan A Fox, Charles H Zeanah
2019 Psychosocial deprivation is associated with the development of socially aberrant behaviors, including signs of disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED). In longitudinal studies, signs of DSED have been shown to decrease over time, especially as children are removed from conditions of deprivation.
Early life stress, cortisol, frontolimbic connectivity, and depressive symptoms during pubertyDevelopment and Psychopathology
Katharina Kircanski, Lucinda M Sisk, Tiffany C Ho, Kathryn L Humphreys, Lucy S King, Natalie L Colich, Sarah J Ordaz, Ian H Gotlib
2019 Early life stress (ELS) is a risk factor for the development of depression in adolescence; the mediating neurobiological mechanisms, however, are unknown. In this study, we examined in early pubertal youth the associations among ELS, cortisol stress responsivity, and white matter microstructure of the uncinate fasciculus and the fornix, two key frontolimbic tracts; we also tested whether and how these variables predicted depressive symptoms in later puberty.