M.A. & Ph.D., University of Rochester, Developmental Psychology
B.A., Binghamton University, Psychology and Social Anthropology
Research and Teaching Interests
Feeling a sense of safety and security is a fundamental human need. When children don’t feel safe, the immediate importance of coping with perceived threats can interfere with their ability to learn and grow in healthy ways. My research examines how children think and behave in social environments that threaten their security and to identify the mechanisms (e.g., biological, emotional, cognitive) that help to explain how or why insecurity can develop into psychopathology over time and those (e.g., close friendship relationships) that help children to feel safe and foster resiliency. I seek to understand coping behavior in terms of the functional strategies youth adopt to limit their exposure to threatening interpersonal situations and restore their sense of security. Because the types of interpersonal relationships that are most salient in our lives can change across development, my research into these questions spans different developmental periods and contexts, including exposure to conflict between parents, parent-child relationships, close friendships, and broader peer relationships (e.g., rejection, victimization). Ultimately, this research stands to inform practices to create safe and supportive environments so that all youth can thrive.
I am deeply committed to helping students develop and grow in their professional identities. This includes expanding their knowledge, understanding, and application of key psychological theories and practices, and thinking critically about the ways in which research informs development, mental health, and everyday life. As an instructor, it is my responsibility to build a rich, collaborative intellectual environment that facilitates active learning for all students. I seek to challenge my students to deal with the complexity of psychological science and human development and balance this academic rigor with extensive support and encouragement. I am deeply committed to addressing diversity (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, age, language) in my teaching. As a psychologist, I am charged with ensuring that my students are ready and able to work competently with diverse individuals. To meet this charge, I incorporate readings, in-class discussions, activities, and course assignments to help students: (1) gain exposure to a breadth of perspectives, (2) engage in introspection to increase awareness of their own cultural backgrounds, biases, and experiences, (3) challenge preconceived and/or stereotypical notions of others with identities that are different than their own, (4) expand critical thinking on the application of course materials and content to diverse others, and (5) gain comfort, ability, and willingness to approach topics of diversity and multiculturalism through respectful and open dialogue.
Research and Representative Publications
Martin, M. J., Sturge-Apple, M. L., Davies, P. T., & Gutierrez, G. (in press). Testing the relative roles of adolescent attachment behavior and hostility in the association between parent-adolescent conflict and adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology.
Davies, P. T., Martin, M. J., & Cummings, E. M., & Cicchetti, D. (2018). Interparental conflict and children’s social problems: Insecurity and friendship affiliation as cascading mediators. Developmental Psychology, 54, 83-97.
Martin M. J., Sturge-Apple, M. L., Davies, P. T., & Romero, C. V. (2017). Mothers’ implicit representations of their adolescent as unlovable: Explanatory factor linking family conflict and harsh parenting. Developmental Psychology, 53, 1344-1355.
Martin, M. J., Davies, P. T., Cummings, E. M., & Cicchetti, D. (2017). The mediating roles of cortisol reactivity and executive functioning difficulties in the pathways between childhood histories of emotional insecurity and adolescence school problems. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 1483-1498.
Martin, M. J., Davies, P. T., & Cummings, E. M. (2017). Distinguishing attachment and affiliation in early adolescents’ narrative descriptions of their best friendship. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 27, 644-660.
Davies, P. T., Martin, M. J., & Sturge-Apple, M. L. (2016). Emotional security theory and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology: Theory and method (3rd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 199–264). New York, NY: Wiley.
Martin, M. J., Davies, P. T., & MacNeill, L. A. (2014). Social defense: An evolutionary developmental model of children’s strategies for coping with threat in the peer group. Evolutionary Psychology, 12, 364-385.