Jay Belsky

Position Title
Robert M. and Natalie Reid Dorn Professor, Human Development & Family Studies

1331 Hart Hall

Research Interests 
Professor Belsky is an internationally recognized expert in the field of child development and family studies. His areas of special expertise include the effects of day care, parent-child relations during the infancy and early childhood years, the transition to parenthood, the etiology of child maltreatment and the evolutionary basis of parent and child functioning. Dr. Belsky's research is marked by a focus upon fathers as well as mothers, marriages as well as parent-child relations, and naturalistic home observations of family interaction patterns. It is both basic and applied in its character. He is a founding and collaborating investigator on the NICHD Study of Child Care and Youth Development (US) and that National Evaluation of Sure Start (UK). He is the author of more than 300 scientific articles and chapters and the author/editor of several books, including most recently The National Evaluation of Sure Start: Does Area-Based Early Intervention Work (The Policy Press, 2007).

Dr. Belsky was ranked in top 0.01% of all scientists based on impact  (PLoS Biology, Ioannidis et al., 2019).

Diversity Statement 
Many presume that the very same developmental processes characterize all types of individuals and families, be they Black, White, American, Asian…. For historical, cultural, societal or even biological reasons, there is increasing evidence that this is simply not the case. Thus, my work seeks to identify the contextual, biological and other conditions under which processes of development vary by ecological niche, broadly conceived.

Selected Publications 

Sayler, K., Zhang, X., Steinberg, L., & Belsky, J. (in press). Parenting, Peers and Psychosocial Adjustment: Are the Same—or Different—Children Affected by Each? Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Andersen, S.H., Steinberg, L. & Belsky, J. (2021). Beyond Early Years vs. Adolescence: The Interactive Effect of Adversity in Both Periods on Life-Course Development. Developmental Psychology, 57, 1958-1967.

Hamlat, E.J., Prather, A.A., Horvath, S., Belsky, J., & Epel, E.S. (2021). Early Life Adversity, Pubertal Timing, and Epigenetic Age Acceleration in Adulthood. Developmental Psychobiology, 63, 890-902.

McAnally, H.M., Iosua, E., Sligo, J.L., Belsky, J., Spry, E., Letcher, P., MacDonald, J.A., Thomson, K.C., Olsson, C.A., Williams, S., McGee, R., Bolton, A.E., & Hancox, R.J. (2021). Childhood disadvantage and adolescent socioemotional wellbeing as predictors of future parenting behaviour. Journal of Adolescence, 86, 90-100.

McLaughlin, K.A., Sheridan, M.A., Humphreys, K.L., Belsky, J., & Ellis, B.J. (2021). The Value of Dimensional Models of Early Experience: Thinking Clearly about Concepts and Categories. Perspectives in Psychological Science 16, 1463-1472.

Sayler, K., Hartman, S. & Belsky, J. (2021). Antecedents of Pregnancy Intention and Prenatal Father Engagement: A Dyadic and Typological Approach. Family Issues. July 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X211030036   

Zhang, X., Sayler, K., Hartman, S., & Belsky, J. (2021). Infant temperament, early-childhood parenting, and early-adolescent development: Testing alternative models of Parenting × Temperament interaction. Development and psychopathology, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579420002096  

Belsky, J., Zhang, X., & Sayler, K. (2021). Differential Susceptibility 2.0: Are the same children affected by different experiences and exposures. Development & Psychopathology, 1-9.

Zhang, X., Widaman, K., & Belsky, J. (in press). Beyond Orchids and Dandelions: Susceptibility to Environmental Influences is Not Bimodal. Development and Psychopathology.

Zhang, X., Schlomer, G.L, Ellis, B.J. & Belsky, J. (in press). Environmental harshness and unpredictability: Do they affect the same parents and children? Development and Psychopathology.

Belsky, J., Moffitt, T., Poulton, R., & Caspi, A. (in press). The origins of you: How childhood shapes later life. Harvard University Press. 

Zhang, X. & Belsky, J. (in press). Three phases of gene-X-environment interaction research: Theoretical assumptions underlying gene selection. Development and Psychopathology. 

Hartman, S., & Belsky, J. (in press). Prenatal Programming of Postnatal Plasticity. Chapter to appear in Wazana, A., Oberlander, T. & Szekely, E. (Eds.), Prenatal Stress and Child Development. New York: Springer.

Hygen, B.W., Belsky, J., Stenseng, F., Skalicka, V., Kvande, M.N., Zahl-Thanem, T., & Wichstrom, L. (2020). Time spent gaming and social competence in children: Reciprocal effects across childhood. Child Development, 91, 861-875

Hartman, S., Sayler, K., & Belsky, J. (2019). Prenatal stress enhances postnatal plasticity: The role of microbiota. Developmental Psychobiology, 61, 729-738. https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.21816

Belsky, J. (2019). Early-life adversity accelerates child-adolescent development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28, 241-246.

Belsky, J., Pokhvisneva, I., Rema, A.S.S.R.,Broekman, B.F.P., Pluess, M., O’Donnell, K.J., Meaney, M.J., & Silveira, P.P. (2019). Polygenic differential susceptibility to prenatal adversity. Development and Psychopathology, 31, 439-441.

Wertz, J., Belsky, J., Moffitt, T.E., Belsky, D.W., Harrington, H., Avinun, R., Poulton, R., Ramrakha, S., Caspi, A. (2019). Genetics of nurture: A test of the hypothesis that parents’ genetics predict their observed caregiving. Developmental Psychology, 55,1461-1472.

Hartman, S., & Belsky, J. (2018). Prenatal stress and enhanced developmental plasticity. Journal of Neural Transmission.

Bjorklund, O., Belsky, J., Wichstrom, L., & Steinsbekk, S. (2018). Predictors of Eating Behavior in Middle Childhood: A Hybrid Fixed Effects Model. Developmental Psychology, 54, 1099-1110.

Belsky, J., & Widaman, K. (2018). Integrating exploratory and competitive-confirmatory approaches to testing person-X-environment interactions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59, 296-298.

Belsky, J., (2018). Belsky-Steinberg-Draper Hypothesis. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T.K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences, Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1612-1

Hartman, S. & Belsky, J. (2018). Prenatal programming of postnatal plasticity revisited—and extended. Development and Psychopathology, 30, 825-842.

Hartman, S., Freeman, S.M., Bales, K.L., & Belsky, J. (2018). Prenatal stress as a risk--and opportunity-- factor. Psychological Science, 29, 572-580.

Li, Z., Liu, S., Hartman, S., & Belsky, J. (2018). Interactive Effects of Early-Life Income Harshness and Unpredictability on Children’s Socioemotional and Academic Functioning in Kindergarten and Adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 54, 2101-2112.

Hartman, S., Sung, S., Simpson, J.A., Schlomer, G.L. & Belsky, J. (2018). Decomposing environmental unpredictability in forecasting adolescent and young-adult development: A two-sample study. Development and Psychopathology, 30, 1321-1332.

Belsky, J., & Van IJzendoorn, M.H. (2017). Genetic differential susceptibility to the effects of parenting. Current Opinion in Psychology, 15, 125-130.

Belsky, J., Melhuish, E., & Barnes, J. (2017). Sure Start Local Programmes: Area-based, early-preventative intervention in England. In R. Alexander (Ed.), Research in Child Maltreatment Prevention, Vol. 2, Societal, organizational and international approaches (pp. 323-331). St. Louis, Missouri: STM Learning, Inc..

Shai, D., & Belsky, J. (2017). Parental embodied mentalizing: How the nonverbal dance between parents and infants predicts children’s socio-emotional functioning. Attachment & Human Development, 19, 191-219.

Hartman, S., Li, Z., Nettle, D., & Belsky, J. (2017). External-environmental and Internal-health Early-life Predictors of Adolescent Development. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 1839-1849.

Chhangur, R.R., Weeland, J., Overbeek, G., Matthys, W., de Castro, B.O., van der Giessen, D., & Belsky, J. (2017). Genetic moderation of intervention efficacy: Dopaminergic genes, the Incredible Years, and externalizing behavior in children. Child Development, 88, 796-811.

Wang, M., Siwei, L., & Belsky, J. (2017). Triangulation Processes Experienced by Children in Contemporary China. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 41, 688-695.

Belsky, J. & Shalev, I. (2016). Contextual Adversity, Telomere Erosion, Pubertal Development and Health: Two Models of Accelerated Aging—or One? Development and Psychopathology, 28, 1367-1383.

Belsky, J. (2016). The Differential Susceptibility Hypothesis: Sensitivity to the Environment for Better and For Worse. JAMA Pediatrics, 170, 321-322.

Belsky, J. (2016). Human Development in Evolutionary Biological Perspective. In R.J. Sternberg, S.T. Fiske & D.J. Foss (Eds.), Scientists Making a Difference:  The Greatest Living Behavioral and Brain Scientists Talk about Their Most Important Contributions (pp. 240-243). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Belsky, J., Sexual and reproductive development. In T.K., Shackelford, V.A. Weekes,-Shackelford (Eds.) (2016). Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Berlin: Springer. http://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2485-1

Belsky, J. & M. Pluess, M. (2016). Differential susceptibility to environmental influences. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Developmental Psychopathology, 3rd Ed pp. 59-106). NY: Wiley.

Shalev, I. & Belsky, J. (2016). Early-life stress and reproductive cost: A two-hit developmental model of accelerated aging? Medical Hypotheses, 90, 41-47.

Simpson, J. & Belsky, J. (2016). Attachment Theory within a Modern Evolutionary Framework. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of Attachment Theory and Research, 3rd Ed.(pp. 91-116). New York: Guilford.

Fearon, R.M.P. & Belsky, J. (2016). Precursors of Attachment Security. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of Attachment Theory and Research, 3rd Ed (pp. 291-313). New York: Guilford.

Belsky, J, Ruttle, P.L., Boyce, W.T., Armstrong, J.M., & Essex, M.J. (2015). Early Adversity, Elevated Stress Physiology, Accelerated Sexual Maturation and Poor Health in Female. Developmental Psychology, 51, 816-822.