Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Elysia P. Davis

Second Advisor

Julia Dmitrieva

Third Advisor

Erika Manczak

Fourth Advisor

Paige Lloyd

Fifth Advisor

Jenn Bellamy


Affect-biased attention, Infancy, Intergenerational transmission, Negative affectivity, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Preconception stress


The developmental origins of mental health likely begin early in life and perhaps even prior to conception. Research is needed to elucidate pathways of risk and resilience in the development of psychopathology. The goal of the current dissertation was to explore how both preconception and postnatal experiences influence negative affectivity, a robust and transdiagnostic risk factor for later psychiatric symptoms. The present dissertation accomplished this goal by completing two independent studies, each of which are presented in the format of standalone journal articles. Study one focused on evaluating how preconception experiences, specifically maternal symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), impact negative affectivity in early childhood. Study two explored how affect-biased attention, another transdiagnostic indicator of psychopathological risk, relates to negative affectivity in infancy. Findings of the current dissertation suggest that children of mothers who experience elevated symptoms of post-traumatic stress prior to conception demonstrate greater negative affectivity in early childhood. Additionally, infants who exhibited heightened affect-biased attention in infancy (e.g., biases in the holding of attention on emotional faces) similarly were more likely to be high in negative affectivity. These findings have important implications for understanding the preconception and perinatal determinants of mental health. Implications of these findings, limitations, as well as future directions are discussed in detail.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Danielle A Swales


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

98 pgs


Clinical psychology