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  • Psychology Faculty

    Your Psychology Faculty

Sara R. Berzenski

Sara Berzenski
Assistant Professor
(818) 677 - 2814
Office location:
ST 331



Ph.D., 2013, UC Riverside

M.A., 2009, UC Riverside

B.A., 2003, University of Pennsylvania

Specialty Areas: Developmental Psychopathology, Quantitative Methods


Courses Taught

Psy 320/L – Statistical Methods in Psychological Research & Lab

Psy 427 – Introduction to Psychological Testing


Selected Publications and Presentations


Berzenski, S.R., Yates, T.M., Egeland, B. (In press). An integrated view of type-specific intergenerational transmission of maltreatment. In J. Korbin & R. Krugman (Eds.), Handbook of Child Maltreatment.


Berzenski, S.R. & Yates, T.M. (2013). Preschoolers’ emotion knowledge and the differential effects of harsh punishment. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(3), 463-472.


Berzenski, S.R., Bennett, D.S., Marini, V. A., Sullivan, M.S., Lewis, M. (2013). The role of parental distress in moderating the influence of child neglect on maladjustment. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-12.


Bennett, D., Marini, V., Berzenski, S.R., Carmody, D.P., Lewis, M. (2013). Externalizing problems in late childhood as a function of prenatal cocaine exposure and environmental risk. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 38(3), 296-308.


Berzenski, S.R. & Yates, T.M. (2011). Classes and consequences of multiple maltreatment: A person- centered analysis. Child Maltreatment, 16(4), 250-261.


Berzenski, S.R. & Yates, T.M. (2010). A developmental process analysis of the impact of emotional abuse on relationship violence. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 19(2), 180-203.



Berzenski, S.R., Alkon, A., Yates, T.M. (2013). Implications of physiological and behavioral regulatory concordance for adjustment in young children. Paper presented at 2013 Society for Research in Child Development biennial meeting, Seattle, WA.


Berzenski, S.R., Yates, T.M. (2013). A microgenetic dynamic systems analysis of temporal relations among domains of early childhood regulation. Poster presented at 2013 Society for Research in Child Development biennial meeting, Seattle, WA.


Berzenski, S.R., Yates, T.M. (2011). Differential effects of environmental, relational, and biological adversity on autonomic regulation in young children. Poster presented at National Academy of Sciences Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium: Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergarteners, Irvine, CA.


Berzenski, S.R. (2011). The differential salience of coping mechanisms in variable risk contexts. Poster presented at 2011 Society for Research in Child Development biennial meeting, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Research Interests

My research investigates emotional development in the context of adversity, from a developmental psychopathology perspective. I am interested in the ways that emotional development is altered in the context of child maltreatment, as well as the ways in which emotion competence skills may mitigate the negative impact of adversity on adaptation. In addition, I am interested in approaching these questions using diverse quantitative analytic techniques and measurement approaches, as well as applying a developmental perspective to quantitative issues. My program of research is composed of the following three interrelated areas of study:


Child Maltreatment

This line of research explores development in contexts of adversity, particularly child maltreatment, to clarify specific mechanisms by which adversity eventuates in negative adjustment and/or resilience. In particular, this research focuses on the importance of specific features (e.g., severity, chronicity) and subtypes (e.g., physical abuse, emotional abuse) of child maltreatment.


The Development of Emotion Competence

My second line of research investigates the development of emotion competence in contexts of both adversity and typical experience. Emotion competence is characterized by capabilities in emotion knowledge (understanding one’s own emotions and perceiving emotions in others), emotion expression (displaying appropriate levels and valences of emotions), and emotion regulation (the ability to control emotions during a challenging situation).


Domains of Self-Regulation

My third line of research seeks to understand the complexity of an individual’s response to a challenging situation, which involves physiological arousal, felt emotion, expressed emotion, and often a behavioral response. In investigating these capabilities, I draw heavily on observational data of children’s responses to challenging situations in the laboratory (e.g., a disappointing gift task, a frustrating building task). With regard to dynamic systems of regulation, I am investigating the predictive value of concordance among domains, specific profiles of activation, as well as the interrelations between domains of regulation across development.