Kristin Buss, Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies, has been a faculty affiliate of the Child Study Center since she arrived at Penn State in 2006. Soon after arriving, Kristin worked closely with other faculty to established Parents And Children Together (PACT), a Penn State University Park research initiative housed in Harrisburg, PA. The PACT Initiative works to promote the health and well-being of children, youth, and families from diverse backgrounds through culturally sensitive and community-engaged research projects implemented by Penn State researchers. She served as Co-Director of the Harrisburg Center for Healthy Child Development (now just PACT) from 2008 – 2011 and served as Director from 2011 – 2016. Kristin is Director of the Emotion Development lab and served as Director of Graduate Training from 2014 – 2016. Additionally, she was an Associate Editor for Developmental Psychology from 2016 – 2020.
Kristin’s central research questions relate to understanding the mechanisms of emotional development with respect to developing temperament and personality. She is primarily interested in the dynamics of emotional reactivity and regulation and how individual differences in state affect are related to trait affect or temperament. She views emotional expression as partially reflecting individual differences in temperament. In addition, the identification of individual differences in biological processes is central to her research. She is primarily interested in the differentiation of negative affect state and traits (e.g., fear, anger, and sadness) and emotion regulation and dysregulation. Her research program is designed to identify specific mechanisms that underlie individual differences in affective development. As described, these mechanisms are being uncovered through the use of several complementary methodologies across a variety of studies. These studies emphasize (1) multi-method assessment of affective behavior, (2) temperament, (3) the role of context, (4) physiological correlates, (5) neural circuitry, and (6) risk factors for development of internalizing disorders. Her current research is focused on identifying individual differences in affective developmental trajectories across adolescence. Specifically, she is interested in addressing questions about whether certain affective styles, related to fear regulation or dysregulation, will serve as protective factors or as diatheses for children at risk for mood disorders.
Kristin received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 2000 under the mentorship of H. Hill Goldsmith. The following year, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin’s Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior with Dr. Richard Davidson. She was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri – Columbia from August 2001 to July 2006.