Headshot of Erika Lunkenheimer

Erika Lunkenheimer

Professor, Psychology; Associate Director of Education, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network

141 Moore Building


Erika's research program revolves around regulatory processes in the family, with the dual goals of (1) understanding how mother-child and father-child interaction patterns act as risk and protective processes for developmental psychopathology and (2) uncovering malleable relationship processes that could aid in the tailoring and improvement of preventive intervention programs for families at risk. Grounded in dynamic systems theory and using dynamic time series statistical approaches, she studies the moment-to-moment coregulation of emotions, goal-oriented behaviors, and physiology between parents and young children in relation to familial risk factors and child outcomes (e.g., children’s self-regulation). A primary interest is examining the role that these parent-child coregulation patterns play in the development of child maltreatment, as well as their association with related maltreatment risk factors (e.g., harsh parenting, parental mental health problems and stress, children’s behavior problems). Ultimately, this work is designed to obtain a better understanding of the etiology of developmental psychopathology and inform the prevention of child maltreatment.

For more information on Dr. Lunkenheimer, click here.

Related News

Image of boy with back facing the camera

July 28, 2021

Boys still get these 3 things from parents that girls don’t

Stereotypical gendered parenting differences remain entrenched in American households. In some cases (like when you’re shopping for last-minute gifts) parents may simply be unaware that they are parenting daughters in ways that are different from sons. In other cases, gendered parenting may be linked to cultural norms or religious beliefs. 

Read more.
image of family with counselor

December 07, 2020

Parental stress biology and mental health symptoms affect young children

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Parental depression and anxiety can have profound effects on children. For the first time, Penn State researchers demonstrated that stress biology relates to depressive and anxiety symptoms differently for mothers versus fathers, and that parents’ profiles of stress biology and symptoms can predict their preschoolers’ emotional and behavioral problems.

Read more.
picture of mother helping child with homework

October 27, 2020

Parent behaviors supporting children's independence vary by family risk

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Parental responses that support children’s independence are less common in families facing more risk factors. This may be true regardless of whether parents are responding to children’s on- or off-task behavior, according to Penn State researchers.

Read more.
child sitting

May 26, 2020

New Penn State program will train next generation of child maltreatment scholars

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Child maltreatment is a significant health issue, affecting more than 12% of children in the U.S. by the time they reach age 18, and is associated with a myriad of behavioral, emotional, and physical health problems for survivors.

Read more.