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Research Interests

As an overarching goal of my career, I seek to leverage knowledge from both evolutionary biology and developmental science to address core issues in developmental psychopathology, especially in relation to child and adolescent health. This work employs life history theory to model stress-health relations over the life course.  A major emphasis of my research has been the development of Biological Sensitivity to Context theory and its recent extension the Adaptive Calibration Model, which focus on how our biobehavioral systems respond to specific features of family environments and the larger ecological context.  My empirical work examines the impact of fathers, family relationships, and socioecological conditions on children’s biological stress responses, timing of pubertal development, risky adolescent behavior and cognition, and related health outcomes.  In addition to this basic research, I am interested in real-world applications in the form of theoretically-based interventions.  For more information about my research, please click on the above links to specific projects.

Opportunities for Students

He works with students interested in studying developmental adaptations to stress. Dr. Ellis will be accepting new graduate students for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Selected Publications

Ellis, B. J., Abrams, L. S., Masten, A. S., Sternberg, R. J., Tottenham, N., & Frankenhuis, W. E. (2023). The Hidden Talents Framework: Implications for Science, Policy, and Practice (Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Brener, S.A., Frankenhuis, W.E., *Young, E.S., & Ellis, B.J. (2023). Social class, sex, and the ability to recognize emotions: The main effect is in the interaction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

*Young, E.S., Frankenhuis, W.E., *DelPriore, D.J., & Ellis, B.J. (2022). Hidden talents in context: Cognitive performance with abstract versus ecological stimuli among adversity-exposed youth. Child Development, 93, 1493–1510.

Ellis, B.J., Sheridan, M.A., Belsky, J., & McLaughlin, K.A. (2022). Why and how does early adversity influence development? Toward an integrated model of dimensions of environmental experience. Development and Psychopathology, 34, 447–471.

Ellis, B.J., *Horn, A.J., Carter, C.S., van Ijzendoorn, M.H., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J. (2021). Developmental programming of oxytocin through variation in early-life stress:  Four meta-analyses and a theoretical reinterpretation. Clinical Psychology Review, 86,

*DelPriore, D.J., *Shakiba, N., *Schlomer, G.S., Hill, S.E., & Ellis, B.J. (2019). The effects of fathers on daughters’ expectations for men. Developmental Psychology, 55, 1523-1536.

Ellis, B.J., & Del Giudice, M. (2019). Developmental adaptation to stress: An evolutionary perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 70, 111-139.

Ellis, B.J.,*Bianchi, J., Griskevicius, V., & Frankenhuis, W.E. (2017). Beyond risk and protective factors: An adaptation-based approach to resilience. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12, 561–587.


Susan Brener
Susan Chen

Last Updated: 1/8/24