Faculty Directory

Karen Caplovitz Barrett

Karen Barrett, PhD

Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Contact Information

311 Behavioral Sciences Building
1570 Campus Delivery
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1570

Phone: 970-491-7382
Fax: 970-491-7975
E-mail: karen.barrett@colostate.edu
View Vita

Research Interests

I am a life-span developmental psychologist who takes a functional approach to studying emotion and motivational processes and their development. My current research projects are in three major areas: (1) The effect of emotional competence/mindfulness interventions on socioemotional competence and prevention of emotion regulation difficulties; (2) Assessment of school readiness and intervention to improve social, motivational, and emotional aspects of school readiness; and (3) the role of socialization and cultural beliefs in the development of social emotions, emotion regulation, and self-regulation during early childhood.

In the area of early interventions to promote social and emotional competence, I am currently conducting a pilot evaluation of an intervention to provide early childhood educators with tools to help them promote emotional competence in the preschool-aged children in their classroom. This intervention is unique in addressing understanding and regulation of emotions relevant to development of both internalizing and externalizing behavioral health disorders and school readiness. It includes lessons in understanding key emotions in self and others, a number of ways of regulating those emotions, including mindfulness-based methods, and games and activities to enhance self-control (Executive Function). With my colleagues Becky Orsi and Helen Holmquist-Johnson from the Social Work Research Center and Kim Penney of Lutheran Family Services, I will soon begin a funded partnership project endeavoring to support adoptive parents of children with trauma histories, to help them engage in trauma-informed parenting. Relevant recent publications include a chapter published in 2015 on emotion regulation in an edited book on promoting healthy development for America’s youth, a 2014 article on timescales and adaptation, and a chapter in an edited handbook on Self-regulatory processes in Development, published in 2013, which features chapters from both American and international colleagues on behavioral, physiological, and brain approaches to the development of self-regulation, emotion regulation, and mastery motivation.

In collaboration with my colleagues, George Morgan (CSU school of education), Krisztián Józsa (University of Szeged, Hungary), and Cerissa Stevenson (CSU school of education), I am creating and piloting a new computer-tablet-based assessment of school readiness in both the U.S. and Hungary. Relevant recent publications include two articles published in 2017 on the new assessment (Barrett, Józsa, & Morgan, 2017; Józsa, Barrett, Józsa, Kis, & Morgan, 2017), an article on age and cultural differences in mastery motivation of American, Chinese, and Hungarian children, published in 2014 and another chapter in the 2013 handbook on self-regulatory processes, as well as an article submitted for publication on a longitudinal study of social and affective aspects of mastery motivation as predictors of school readiness in Hungarian children.

In the third area of research, my doctoral student, Jun Wang, recently completed a study of emotional responses and regulatory responses of Chinese and American children to emotionally challenging socialization contexts. Recent publications in this area of research include an article in collaboration with Jun Wang on these Chinese and American children’s emotional responses these challenging contexts, published in 2015 in Motivation and Emotion,; one on emotion regulation in adolescents in collaboration with Jun Wang, Laura Vujovic, and Richard Lerner, which was published in 2015; one on adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation, published in 2014 in Human Development; and articles on emotions and regulation in children with Down syndrome (Barrett & Fidler, 2008 and Fidler, Barrett, & Most, 2005). I have published a number of other articles and chapters in this area (e.g., Barrett, 2005; Chiang, Barrett, & Nuñez, 2000); Barrett, 1998; Barrett & Nelson-Goens, 1997; Barrett, Zahn-Waxler, & Cole, 1993).


B.S., 1977, Human Development & Family Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
M.A., 1981, Developmental Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Ph.D., 1984, Developmental Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO

Honors and Awards

2008-Invited presentation for workshop on methodological aspects of eliciting and assessing emotions, emotion regulation, and emotional competence, Randersacker, Germany

1989 - Nominated for National Science Foundation Waterman Award for Outstanding Young Scientist

1983 - Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Network on the Transition from Infancy to Early Childhood

1983 - Individual Predoctoral Fellowship awarded by National Institute of Mental Health (MH-08897-01). Title: Infants' Use of Conflicting Emotion Signals.

1982 - Individual Predoctoral Fellowship awarded by American Association of University Women. Title: The Effect of Expectancy Upon Infants' Use of Conflicting Emotion Signals

Current and Recent Funded Research Projects

2017-2021     OTKA Hungarian Research Grant NKFI K124839. Title: The Role of Mastery Motivation and Executive Functions in School Performance. Jozsa, K., PI, Barrett, K.C., PI for international collaboration, Morgan, G.M., co-Investigator for international collaboration.

2017-2018     CCTSI Partnership Development Pilot Grant. Title: TAPT-IN Parenting (Teaching Adoptive Parents Trauma-Informed Parenting). Barrett, K.C., Lead Investigator, Orsi, R. and Holmquist-Johnson, H., Collaborating Investigators, Penny, K. Community PI, $9974 total (Academic funds requested $4347; Community funds requested $5627).

2016-2018     Creation of an Android app for a Tablet-based Assessment of School Readiness CSU Ventures. Barrett, K.C., PI; Morgan, G.A. & Jozsa, K. co-PIs, $10,472.

2013-2016     Colorado Trust Internship Supervision subcontract for Colorado Trust Healthcare Integration project awarded to the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County, Barrett, K.C., PI of subcontract for $10,000.

2014     RE-Mind: An intervention program to enhance self-regulation and mindfulness in preschoolers. Colorado School of Public Health. Barrett, K.C., PI, ($16,999).

2014     Computer-Based Motivation Assessment for the Transition to School. CSU Ventures. Morgan, G.M., PI; Barrett, K.C., co-PI; Józsa, K., co-PI, ($5950).

Project HOME (Healthcare Options Made Easy). Administration for Children and Families, 2008-2012, co-Principal Investigator (with Dr. Lise Youngblade).

Professional Experience

2005-present: Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University.

2013-present: Professor, Colorado School of Public Health.

2006-2014: Director, Online program, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

2007-2013: Assistant Department Head, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

2001-2012: Chair, Graduate Committee, Department of Human Development & Family Studies, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

1992 – 2005: Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University.

1989 – 1992: Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University.

1985 – 1989: Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, University of Wyoming.

1983 – 1985: Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institute of Mental Health.

1983: Predoctoral Fellow, National Institute of Mental Health, Psychology Department, University of Denver.

1982 – 1983: Predoctoral Fellow, American Association of University Women, Psychology Department, University of Denver.

1982: Instructor, Motivation and Emotion, Psychology Department, University of Denver.

Selected Publications

Barrett, K.C., Józsa, K., & Morgan, G.A. (2017). New Computer-based mastery motivation and executive function tasks for school readiness and school success in 3 to 8 year-old children. Hungarian Educational Research Journal, 7, 86-105. doi: 10.14413/herj.2017.02.06

Józsa, K., Barrett, K.C., Józsa, G., Kis, N*., & Morgan, G.A. (2017). Development and initial evaluation of an individualized moderately challenging computer-tablet mastery motivation measure for 3-8 year-olds. Hungarian Educational Research Journal, 7, 106-126. doi: 10.14413/herj.2017.02.07

Wang, J*., Vujovic, L., Barrett, K.C., Lerner, R.M. (2015). The regulation of emotion in adolescence. In E. P. Bowers, G. J., Geldhof, S. K. Johnson, L. J. Hilliard, R. M. Hershberg, J. V. Lerner, & R. M. Lerner, Promoting Healthy Development for America’s Youth: Lessons Learned from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (pp. 37-55). New York, NY: Springer. doi: 10.107/978-3-319-17166-1.

Wang, J.* & Barrett, K.C. (2015). Differences between American and Chinese preschoolers in emotional responses to resistance to temptation and mishap contexts. Motivation and Emotion, doi: 10.1007/s11031-014-9463-9

Jozsa, K., Wang, J.*, Barrett, K.C., & Morgan, G.A. (2014). Age and cultural differences in self-perceptions of mastery motivation and competence in American, Chinese, and Hungarian school-age children. Child Development Research, 2014, article ID 803061, doi: 10.1155/2014/803061

Barrett, K.C. (2014). Timescales and Adaptation in Children’s Typical and Atypical Development: A Functionalist Approach. Human Development, 57, 1-8. doi: 10.1159/000365871

Barrett, K.C., Fox, N.A., Morgan, G.A., Fidler, D.A., & Daunhauer, L.A. (Eds.) (2013) Self-regulatory processes in development: New directions and international perspectives. New York: Psychology Press.

Barrett, K.C. (2013). Adaptive and maladaptive regulation of and by emotion: Process, context, and relation to self-regulation with respect to personal and cultural goals and concerns. In K.C. Barrett (Ed.), Self-regulatory processes in development: New directions and international perspectives. New York: Psychology Press.

Wang, J. & Barrett, K.C. (2013). Mastery Motivation and Self -regulation during early childhood. In K.C. Barrett (ed.), Self-regulatory processes in development: New directions and international perspectives. New York: Psychology Press.

Barrett, K.C. & Fidler, D. (2008). Tonguing behaviours in persons with Down Syndrome: Moderator of the effects of negative mood on behaviour problems? Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 33, 303-315.

Alam, M., Barrett, K.C., Hodapp, R.M., & Arndt, K.A. (2008). Botulinum toxin and the facial feedback hypothesis: Can looking better make you feel happier? Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 58, 1061-72.

Tragesser, S.L*., Lippman, L.G., Trull, T.T., & Barrett , K.C. (2008). Borderline Personality Disorder Features and Cognitive, Emotional, and Behavioral Reactions to Teasing. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1512-1523.

Barrett, K.C. (2005) The origins of social emotions and self-regulation in toddlerhood: New evidence. Cognition and Emotion, 19, 953-979.

Thematic Research Areas

  • Emotion, Regulation, & Relational Processes
  • Cultural Context & Diversity
  • Treatment, Intervention, & Prevention Science