People—Melissa Sturge-Apple

Professor Sturge-Apple's research interests include parenting, interparental conflict, and children's socioemotional adjustment; ethological and family systems theories; psychophysiology; quantitative methods.

Research Interests

From early in my career, I have concentrated on examining interrelatedness among family systems from a process-oriented perspective with my primary focus being on understanding interparental and parenting domains and their implications for child development. In addition, my research strives to incorporate a multiple levels of analysis perspective through focusing on psychological (e.g., emotional, behavioral), neurobiological (e.g., physiological systems, cognitive processes, and ecological (e.g., socioeconomic stress) levels. My work is guided by conceptualizations derived from family risk frameworks, emotional security theory, and parenting process models. I am also interested in methodology development including assessment techniques for family research as well as advanced quantitative methods for capturing family processes.

Within this integrative framework, my interests lie in exploring three separate but interrelated areas of research: (1) characterizing the nature of the relationship between interparental discord, parenting, and children's functioning, (2) identifying mechanisms underlying associations between family contexts and children's adjustment, and (3) distinguishing mediating mechanisms of spillover between interparental and parenting domains.

Courses Offered (subject to change)

  • CSP 171  Social and Emotional Development
  • CSP 310, 311  Honors Seminar in Psychology
  • CSP 377, 378  Exploring Research in Family Psychology I and II
  • CSP 514  Structural Equation Modeling I
  • CSP  516  Structural Equation Modeling II

Selected Publications

  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Suor, J.H., & Skibo, M.A. (in press).  Maternal child-centered attributions and harsh discipline: The moderating role of working memory across socioeconomic contexts. Journal of Family Psychology.
  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T., Cicchetti, D., & Frittoria, M.G. (in press). A typology of interpartner conflict and maternal parenting practices in high-risk families: Examining spillover and compensatory models and implications for child adjustment. Development and Psychopathology.
  • Davies, P.T., Martin, M.J., & Sturge-Apple, M.L. (in press). Emotional Security Theory and Developmental Psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of Development and Psychopathology. New York: Springer.
  • Davies, P.T., & Sturge-Apple, M.L. (2014). Family context in the development of psychopathology. In M. Lewis & K.D. Rudolph (Eds.), Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology (pp. 143-161). New York: Springer.
  • Davies P.T., Cicchetti, D., Hentges, R.F.*, & Sturge-Apple, M.L. (2013). The genetic precursors and the advantageous and disadvantageous sequelae of inhibited temperament: An evolutionary perspective. Developmental Psychology, 49, 2285-2300.
  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T., Martin, M.J., Cicchetti, D., & Hentges, R.F. (2012). An examination of the impact of harsh parenting contexts on children's adaption within an evolutionary framework. Developmental Psychology, 48, 791-801.
  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T., Cicchetti, D., & Manning, L.G. (2012). Interparental violence, maternal emotional unavailability and children's cortisol reactivity to family contexts. Developmental Psychology, 48, 237-249.
  • Davies, P.T., Sturge-Apple, M.L., & Cicchetti, D. (in press). Interparental aggression and children's adrenocortical reactivity: Testing an evolutionary model of allostatic load. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 801-814.
  • Cicchetti, D., Rogosch, F., Toth, S.L., & Sturge-Apple, M.L. (2011).  Normalizing the development of cortisol regulation in maltreated infants through preventive interventions. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 789-800.
  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T., & Cummings, E.M. (2010). Typologies of family functioning: Implications for children's adjustment during the early school years. Child Development, 81, 1320-1335.
  • Davies, P.T., Sturge-Apple, M.L., & Cummings, E.M. (2009).  A process analysis of the transmission of distress from interparental conflict to parenting: Adult relationship security as an explanatory mechanism. Developmental Psychology, 45, 1761-1773.
  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T., Cicchetti, D., & Cummings, E.M.  (2009). The role of mothers' and fathers' adrenocortical reactivity in spillover between interparental conflict and parenting practices. Journal of Family Psychology, 2, 215-225.
  • Davies, P.T., Sturge-Apple, M.L., Cicchetti, D. & Cummings, E.M. (2008). Adrenocortical underpinnings of children's psychological reactivity to interparental conflict.  Child Development, 79, 1693-1706.
  • Davies, P.T., Sturge-Apple, M.L., Cicchetti, D., & Cummings, E.M. (2007). The role of child adrenocortical functioning in pathways between interparental conflict and child maladjustment. Developmental Psychology, 43, 918-930.
  • Cicchetti, D., Rogosch, F.A., & Sturge-Apple, M.L. (2007). Interactions of child maltreatment and 5-HTT and monoamine oxidase A polymorphisms: Depressive symptomatology among adolescents from low-socioeconomic status backgrounds. Development and Psychopathology, 19, 1161-1180.
  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T., & Cummings, E.M. (2006). The impact of interparental hostility and withdrawal on parental emotional unavailability and children's adjustment difficulties. Child Development, 77, 1623-1641.
  • Sturge-Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T., & Cummings, E.M. (2006). Hostility and withdrawal in marital conflict: Effects on parental emotional unavailability and inconsistent discipline. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 227-238.

Quick Facts

Title: Associate Professor of Psychology

Education: Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, Minor in Quantitative Psychology, University of Notre Dame


Contact Info

471 Meliora Hall
Department of Clinical & Social Sciences in Psychology
Box 270266
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627

Phone: (585) 275-8711

Office Hours: By appointment