Dr. Starr’s Research Interests 

My interests follow several interrelated pathways. Below are brief descriptions of each, followed by a few representative publications (for a full list of publications, click here).

Internalizing Disorders & Interpersonal Functioning

Depression and anxiety disorders do not exclusively occur “within the skin;” they markedly influence and are influenced by interpersonal relationships and the social environment. Internalizing disorders predict a range of problematic interpersonal behaviors (e.g., self-generation of interpersonal stressors, excessive reassurance seeking, deterioration of friendships and romantic relationships, co-rumination, etc.), and in turn, interpersonal problems are potent predictors of internalizing disorders—potentially leading to a vicious cycle that perpetuates risk. My research attempts to capture these reciprocal processes.

Representative Publications:

Starr, L. R., & Davila, J. (2008). Excessive reassurance seeking, depression, and interpersonal rejection: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117(4), 762-775. doi: 10.1037/a0013866

Starr, L. R., & Davila, J. (2009). Clarifying co-rumination: Associations with internalizing symptoms and romantic involvement among adolescent girls. Journal of Adolescence, 32(1), 19-37. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2007.12.005

Davila, J., Stroud, C. B., Starr, L. R., Miller, M. R., Yoneda, A. C., & Hershenberg, R. (2009). Romantic and sexual activities, parent-adolescent stress, and depressive symptoms among early adolescent girls. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 909-924. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2008.10.004

Starr, L. R., Davila, J., Stroud, C. B., Li, Po Ching Clara, Yoneda, A., Hershenberg, R., & Miller, M. R.. (2012). Love hurts (in more ways than one): Specificity of psychological symptoms as predictors and consequences of romantic activity among early adolescent girls. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(4), 403-420. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20862

Starr, L. R., Donenberg, G. R., & Emerson, E. (2012). Bidirectional linkages between psychological symptoms and sexual activities among African-American adolescent girls in psychiatric care. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 41(6), 811-821. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2012.694607


Genetic Factors in Internalizing Disorders

Genes clearly play an important role in the etiology of internalizing disorders, but they don’t seem to operate independently of the environment. Much of my recent research has explored interactions between specific genetic variants and environmental conditions, in predicting either depressive symptoms or related processes (e.g., stress generation). I am interested in identifying traits, behaviors, or cognitive processes that serve as intermediate phenotypes that explain the association between genetic risk factors and internalizing outcomes.

Representative Publications:

Starr, L. R., Hammen, C., Brennan, P. A., & Najman, J. M. (2012). Serotonin transporter gene as a predictor of stress generation in depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121(4), 810-818. doi: 10.1037/a0027952

Starr, L. R., Hammen, C., Brennan, P. A., & Najman, J. M. (2013). Relational security moderates the effect of serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) on stress generation and depression among adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41, 379-388. doi: 10.1007/s10802-012-9682-z.

Starr, L. R., Hammen, C., Conway, C. C., Raposa, E., & Brennan, P. A. (in press). Sensitizing effect of early adversity on depressive reactions to later proximal stress: Moderation by 5-HTTLPR and CRHR1 in a 20-year longitudinal study. Development and Psychopathology.

Thompson, S., Hammen, C., Starr, L. R., & Najman, J. (in press). Oxytocin Receptor Gene Polymorphism (rs53576) Moderates the Intergenerational Transmission of Depression. Psychoneuroendocrinology.


Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression co-occur at rates far surpassing chance. This simple observation has left an indelible mark on psychopathology research, leading many to question whether the two constructs can be legitimately differentiated. My research examines several questions related to comorbidity, including whether it is better represented by shared transdiagnostic components and how it can function as a confounding variable in research. I am especially interested in identifying mechanisms of comorbidity, especially in applying causal models. Previous research suggests that anxiety disorders tend to temporally precede depression, and in a previous daily diary study (Starr & Davila, 2012, Behaviour Research and Therapy), I found the same pattern holds for anxious and depressed moods. One possible explanation is that anxiety symptoms may trigger depressogenic processes (such as anxiety-focused rumination or interpersonal problems) that increase risk for subsequent symptoms and disorders of depression. For example, some of my previous research has examined the potential mediating or moderating roles of anxiety-focused rumination and interpersonal problems.

Representative Publications

Starr, L. R., & Davila, J. (2008). Differentiating interpersonal correlates of depressive symptoms and social anxiety in adolescence: Implications for models of comorbidity. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 37(2), 337-349.doi 10.1080/15374410801955854

Starr, L. R. & Davila, J. (2012). Cognitive and interpersonal moderators of daily co-occurrence between anxious and depressed moods in generalized anxiety disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(6), 655-669.

Starr, L. R., & Davila, J. (2012). Temporal patterns of anxious and depressed mood in generalized anxiety disorder: A daily diary study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, 131-141. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2011.11.005

Starr, L. R., & Davila, J. (2012). Responding to anxiety with rumination and hopelessness: Mechanism of anxiety-depression symptom co-occurrence? Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(4), 321-337. doi: 10.1007/s10608-011-9363-1

Starr, L. R., Hammen, C., Connolly, N.P., & Brennan, P.A. (2014). Does relational dysfunction mediate the association between anxiety disorders and later depression? Testing an interpersonal model of comorbidity. Depression & Anxiety, 31(1), 77-86.

Starr, L. R., Conway, C. C., Hammen, C., & Brennan, P. A. (2014). Transdiagnostic and disorder-specific models of intergenerational transmission of internalizing pathology Psychological Medicine, 44, 161-174. doi: 10.1017/S003329171300055X



My research uses a variety of methodological approaches, but I am particularly interested in applying daily diary and experience sampling methods to understand micro-processes that contribute to internalizing disorder etiology.