Christopher Trentacosta

Christopher Trentacosta

Associate Professor


313-577-7636 (fax)

5057 Woodward Avenue, Room 8304

Curriculum vitae


Christopher Trentacosta

Dr. Trentacosta is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Wayne State University and Affiliate Faculty of the Merrill-Palmer Skillman Institute. Dr. Trentacosta is also a Co-Leader for the Community Engagement Core of the Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES). 

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychopathology, and Emotional Development


Dr. Trentacosta's research examines self-regulatory skills and emotion competence among parents and their young children. He is especially interested in the roles of emotion competence and self-regulation in children's risk for behavior problems during early childhood and their adjustment to school. His research interests fall into three broad categories: (1) examinations of the correlates and outcomes of emotion competence and self-regulation from a developmental psychopathology perspective, (2) longitudinal investigations of transmission mechanisms (genetic factors, environmental exposures to toxicants, parent-child interaction patterns) that contribute to emotion regulation difficulties and behavior problems, and (3) evaluations of programs to promote emotion competence, self-regulatory skills, and school adjustment and to prevent conduct problems. He has expertise in conducting longitudinal research with low-income families and other populations that face significant life stressors.


  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Delaware, 2006
  • M.A., Psychology, University of Delaware, 2003
  • B.A., Psychology, Loyola College (Maryland), 2000

Awards and grants

  • Title: From the Womb to the Classroom: Linking Perinatal Micronutrients and Toxicants to Neural and Behavioral Development In Utero and In Childhood
    Funding Mechanism: NIEHS R01
    Role: Multi-PI with Moriah Thomason and Christine Austin
    Funding Period: 8/26/2020-5/31/2025

    Title: Examining Prenatal Inflammation and Neurodevelopment in a Longitudinal Fetal-to-Age 9 Imaging Study
    Funding Mechanism: NIMH R01
    Role: Multi-PI with Moriah Thomason
    Funding Period: 5/14/2020-2/28/2025

    Title: In Utero Assessment of the Human Neural Connectome and Later Child Behavior
    Funding Mechanism: NIMH BRAINS Award
    Role: Co-Investigator (2016-2018) and Site PI (2018-present) (Principal Investigator: Moriah Thomason)
    Funding Period: 7/15/2016-4/30/2021

    Title: Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES)
    Funding Mechanism: NIEHS P30 Center
    Role: Community Engagement Core Co-Leader (2019-present) (Principal Investigator: Melissa Runge-Morris)
    Funding Period: 6/5/2014-3/31/2022

    Title: Prenatal Temporal Dynamics in Heavy Metal Exposure and Longitudinal Fetal and Child Neurodevelopment
    Funding Mechanism: CURES Pilot Project Program
    Role: Principal Investigator with Moriah Thomason
    Funding Period: 11/1/2017-3/31/2019

    Title: Contextual Risk, Oxytocin, and Resilience in Everyday Life
    Funding Mechanism: Wayne State University President’s Research Enhancement Program
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Funding Period: 9/4/2015-9/7/2017

    Title: Schools and Families Empowering Learning Intervention Project (SAFE-Learning Program)
    Funding Mechanism: Detroit Public Schools/Children’s Center
    Role: Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator: Douglas Barnett)
    Funding Period: 2/15/2015-12/31/2016

    Title: Transmission Mechanisms of Emotion Regulation and Externalizing Problems
    Funding Mechanism: NIMH K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Funding Period: 8/15/2009-04/30/2015

    Title: Gene-Environment Interplay and Young Children’s Executive Functioning
    Funding Mechanism: Michigan Bloodspot Environmental Epidemiology Project (BLEEP)
    Role: Principal Investigator (sub-contract from University of Michigan
    Funding Period: 9/8/2012-4/30/2015

    Title: At-Risk Young Adult Parents
    Funding Mechanism: Children’s Research Center of Michigan New Investigator Award
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Funding Period: 1/1/2012-12/31/2014

Selected publications

Wilhoit, S. A., Trentacosta, C. J., Beeghly, M., Boeve, J. L., Lewis, T., & Thomason, M. E. (in press). Household chaos and early childhood behavior problems: The moderating role of parent-child reciprocity in lower-income families. Family Relations.

Trentacosta, C. J., & Mulligan, D. J. (2020). New directions in understanding the role of environmental contaminants in child development: Four themes. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 2020(172), 39-51. 

Crespo, L. M., Trentacosta, C. J., Udo-Inyang, I., Northerner, L., Chaudhry, K., & Williams, A. (2019). Self-regulation mitigates the association between household chaos and children’s behavior problems. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 60, 56-64.

Thomason, M., Hect, J. L., Rauh, V. A., Trentacosta, C., Wheelock, M. D., Eggebrecht, A. T., Espinoza-Heredia, C., & Burt, S. A. (2019). Prenatal lead exposure impacts cross-hemispheric and long-range connectivity in the human fetal brain. NeuroImage, 191, 186-192.

Trentacosta, C. J., Waller, R., Neiderhiser, J.M., Shaw, D. S., Natsuaki, M. N., Ganiban, J. M., Reiss, D., Leve, L. D., & Hyde, L. W. (2019). Callous-unemotional behaviors and harsh parenting: Reciprocal associations across early childhood and moderation by inherited risk. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 47, 811-823.

Sparks, L. A., Trentacosta, C. J., Owusu, E., McLear, C., & Smith-Darden, J. (2018). Family cumulative risk and at-risk kindergarteners’ social competence: The mediating role of parent representations of the attachment relationship. Attachment and Human Development, 20, 406-422.

Crespo, L. M., Trentacosta, C. J., Aikins, D., & Wargo-Aikins, J. (2017). Maternal emotion regulation and children's behavior problems: The mediating role of child emotion regulation. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26, 2797-2809. 

Goodlett, B. D., Trentacosta, C. J., McLear, C., Crespo, L., Wheeler, R., Williams, A., Chaudhry, K., & Smith-Darden J. (2017). Maternal depressive symptoms and at-risk young children's internalizing problems: The moderating role of mothers' positivity. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 63, 77-104. 

Trentacosta, C. J., Davis-Kean, P., Mitchell, C., Hyde, L., & Dolinoy, D. (2016). Environmental contaminants and child development. Child Development Perspectives, 10, 228-233. 

Trentacosta, C. J., Harper, F. W. K., Albrecht, T. L., Taub, J. W., Phipps, S., & Penner, L. A. (2016). Pediatric cancer patients' treatment-related distress and longer-term anxiety: An individual differences perspective. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 37, 753-761. 

Trentacosta, C. J., McLear, C. M., Ziadni, M. S., Lumley, M. A., & Arfken, C. L.. (2016). Potentially traumatic events and mental health problems among children of Iraqi refugees: The roles of relationships with parents and feelings about school. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86, 384-392. 

McLear, C. M., Trentacosta, C. J., & Smith-Darden, J. (2016). Child self-regulation, parental secure base scripts, and at-risk kindergarteners' academic achievement. Early Education and Development, 27, 440-456.

Northerner, L. M., Trentacosta, C. J., & McLear, C. M. (2016). Negative affectivity moderates associations between cumulative risk and at-risk toddlers’ behavior problems. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 691-699.

Trentacosta, C. J., Hyde, L. W., Goodlett, B. D., & Shaw, D. S. (2013). Longitudinal prediction of disruptive behavior disorders in adolescent males from multiple risk domains. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 44, 561-572.

Slatcher, R. B., & Trentacosta, C. J. (2012). Influences of parent and child negative emotionality on young children’s everyday behaviors. Emotion, 12, 932-942.

Trentacosta, C. J., Criss, M.M., Shaw, D. S., Lacourse, E., Hyde, L. W., & Dishion, T. J. (2011). Antecedents and outcomes of joint trajectories of mother-son conflict and warmth during middle childhood and adolescence. Child Development, 82, 1676-1690.

Trentacosta, C. J., Neppl, T. K., Donnellan, M. B., Scaramella, L. V., Shaw, D. S., & Conger, R. D. (2010). Adolescent personality as a prospective predictor of parenting: An interactionist perspective. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 721-730.

Trentacosta, C. J. & Fine, S. E. (2010). Emotion knowledge, social competence, and behavior problems in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic review. Social Development, 19, 1-29.

Trentacosta, C. J., Hyde, L. W., Shaw, D. S., & Cheong, J. (2009). Adolescent dispositions for antisocial behavior in context: The roles of neighborhood dangerousness and parental knowledge. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 564-575.

Trentacosta, C. J. & Shaw, D. S. (2009). Emotional self-regulation, peer rejection, and antisocial behavior: Associations from early childhood to early adolescence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 356-365.

Izard, C. E., King, K. A., Trentacosta, C. J., Morgan, J. K., Laurenceau, J. P., Krauthamer-Ewing, E. S., & Finlon, K. J. (2008). Accelerating the development of emotion competence in Head Start children: Effects on adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 369-397.

Trentacosta, C. J., Hyde, L. W., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., Gardner, F., & Wilson, M. (2008). The relations among cumulative risk, parenting, and behavior problems during early childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 1211-1219.

Trentacosta, C. J., & Izard, C. E. (2007). Kindergarten children’s emotion competence as a predictor of their academic competence in first grade. Emotion, 7, 77-88.

Currently teaching

  • PSY 7370, Psychological Interventions I (co-taught with Dr. Mark Lumley), 3 credit hours, Fall 2021


Courses taught

PSY 4320, Introduction to Clinical Psychology, 3 credit hours, Winter 2021

PSY 7380, Psychological Interventions II (co-taught with Dr. Paul Toro), 3 credit hours, Winter 2021 

Citation index