People

Kristen Jacobson, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Research and Scholarly Interests: Anthrozoology, Behavioral Genetics, Bioecological Models of Development, Human-Pet Bonding, Individual Differences in Biology, Brain, and Behavior, Socioemotional Development in Children and Adolescents, Stress & Trauma Exposure
  • Websites: Research Network Profile
  • Contact: kjacobso@bsd.uchicago.edu

My research interests are in how environmental, social, genetic, and biological factors interact to influence individual differences in socioemotional and behavioral development in children and adolescents. My work is greatly influenced by the Bioecological Model developed by Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner, whom I was privileged to work with after college. This model has guided my research examining influences on youth socioemotional and problem behaviors at multiple levels of analysis, including neighborhood, school, peer, family, and individual psychosocial, biological, and genetic factors.



I have experience examining biological and genetic factors underpinning youth affective processing, socio-emotional behaviors, and antisocial behavior. Through a combination of collaborative and independent studies I have begun to identify the underlying pathways through which social and environmental experiences “get under the skin” to affect behavior, which in turn can help us to better understand the nature of socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health and health-related behaviors. As a behavioral scientist, I aim to bridge the gap between biological and social sciences. My research program is unique in that it is highly interdisciplinary, spanning fields of developmental psychology and psychiatry, behavioral genetics, sociology, anthrozoology, neuroscience, and endocrinology.



A behavioral geneticist by training, my work has recently moved away from genetics to focus on the impact of environmental and social factors on brain, biology, and behavior. I am currently conducting two research studies. A pilot study examines the impact of exposure to community violence on the neural underpinnings of emotional and cognitive processes using fMRI in a sample of 9-11 year old children. I am also conducting an experimental study of the effects of petting a therapy dog on prosocial behavior and cortisol response to stress in a large community sample of youth aged 8-12.



I am deeply committed to research education and mentorship. I have supervised several postdoctoral trainees, masters students, and undergraduate students. In our department, I teach basic statistical literacy and lead methodological journal clubs for adult psychiatry residents and child psychiatry fellows. I also direct the research program for residents and fellows, and co-lead the scholarship program for our clinical faculty.

Cornell University
A.B. - Psychology & English
1990

Pennsylvania State University
M.S. - Human Development & Family Studies
1994

Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. - Human Development & Family Studies
1999

Virginia Commonwealth University
Postdoctoral Scholar - Virginia Institute for Psychiatric & Behavioral Genetics
2000

Reduced frontal grey matter, life history of aggression, and underlying genetic influence.
Coccaro EF, Cremers H, Fanning J, Nosal E, Lee R, Keedy S, Jacobson KC. Reduced frontal grey matter, life history of aggression, and underlying genetic influence. Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2018 01 30; 271:126-134.
PMID: 29174436

Relationships between perceived emotional intelligence, aggression, and impulsivity in a population-based adult sample.
Coccaro EF, Zagaja C, Chen P, Jacobson K. Relationships between perceived emotional intelligence, aggression, and impulsivity in a population-based adult sample. Psychiatry Res. 2016 Dec 30; 246:255-260.
PMID: 27728868

Hostile attributional bias, negative emotional responding, and aggression in adults: moderating effects of gender and impulsivity.
Chen P, Coccaro EF, Jacobson KC. Hostile attributional bias, negative emotional responding, and aggression in adults: moderating effects of gender and impulsivity. Aggress Behav. 2012 Jan-Feb; 38(1):47-63.
PMID: 24833604

Moderating effects of childhood maltreatment on associations between social information processing and adult aggression.
Chen P, Coccaro EF, Lee R, Jacobson KC. Moderating effects of childhood maltreatment on associations between social information processing and adult aggression. Psychol Med. 2012 Jun; 42(6):1293-304.
PMID: 22008562

Multivariate behavior genetic analyses of aggressive behavior subtypes.
Yeh MT, Coccaro EF, Jacobson KC. Multivariate behavior genetic analyses of aggressive behavior subtypes. Behav Genet. 2010 Sep; 40(5):603-17.
PMID: 20432061

PennTwins: a population-based cohort for twin studies.
Coccaro EF, Jacobson KC. PennTwins: a population-based cohort for twin studies. Twin Res Hum Genet. 2006 Dec; 9(6):998-1005.
PMID: 17254443

Body mass trajectories and cortical thickness in middle-aged men: a 42-year longitudinal study starting in young adulthood.
Franz CE, Xian H, Lew D, Hatton SN, Puckett O, Whitsel N, Beck A, Dale AM, Fang B, Fennema-Notestine C, Hauger RL, Jacobson KC, Lyons MJ, Reynolds CA, Kremen WS. Body mass trajectories and cortical thickness in middle-aged men: a 42-year longitudinal study starting in young adulthood. Neurobiol Aging. 2019 07; 79:11-21.
PMID: 31026618

Posttraumatic stress symptom persistence across 24 years: association with brain structures.
Franz CE, Hatton SN, Hauger RL, Kredlow MA, Dale AM, Eyler L, McEvoy LK, Fennema-Notestine C, Hagler D, Jacobson KC, McKenzie RE, Panizzon MS, Gustavson DE, Xian H, Toomey R, Beck A, Stevens S, Tu X, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Posttraumatic stress symptom persistence across 24 years: association with brain structures. Brain Imaging Behav. 2019 Mar 04.
PMID: 30830577

Associations Between Pet Ownership and Attitudes Toward Pets With Youth Socioemotional Outcomes.
Jacobson KC, Chang L. Associations Between Pet Ownership and Attitudes Toward Pets With Youth Socioemotional Outcomes. Front Psychol. 2018; 9:2304.
PMID: 30534102

Genetic and Environmental Associations Among Executive Functions, Trait Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms in Middle Age.
Gustavson DE, Franz CE, Panizzon MS, Reynolds CA, Xian H, Jacobson KC, Toomey R, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Genetic and Environmental Associations Among Executive Functions, Trait Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms in Middle Age. Clin Psychol Sci. 2019 Jan; 7(1):127-142.
PMID: 30923645

View All Publications

President
International Society for Anthrozoology
2019 - pres

Resident/Fellow Instructor of the Year
Psychiatry, University of Chicago
2017 - 2019

NIH Director's New Innovator Award
NIH
2007 - 2012

Student Loan Repayment Program
NIH
2003 - 2006

BIRCWH Fellow
NIH K12 Award
2001 - 2003

cum laude in psychology
Cornell University
1990

Cornell Tradition Fellow
Cornell University
1986 - 1990