Stanford Advisors

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Emma Armstrong-Carter is a doctoral student in Developmental and Psychological Sciences at Stanford University and a recipient of the IES fellowship training grant. She received her BA in Psychology & Neuroscience and Geographic Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) in 2016. Emma is amazed by the variation in children’s behavioral, socio-emotional, and cognitive functioning. She studies young children's capacity to contribute to the lives of others--via helping friends, family, and strangers. In particular, she investigates how these types of helping behaviors interplay with children's experiences at school (e.g., abilities to engage in school), and their bodies, using markers of stress-physiology such as cortisol, and autonomic nervous system arousal.

All Publications

  • Interactions between Polygenic Scores and Environments: Methodological and Conceptual Challenges SOCIOLOGICAL SCIENCE Domingue, B., Trejo, S., Armstrong-Carter, E., Tucker-Drob, E. 2020; 7: 465–86

    View details for DOI 10.15195/v7.a19

    View details for Web of Science ID 000575889800001

  • Daily Links Between Helping Behaviors and Emotional Well-Being During Late Adolescence. Journal of research on adolescence : the official journal of the Society for Research on Adolescence Armstrong-Carter, E., Guassi Moreira, J. F., Ivory, S. L., Telzer, E. H. 2020


    We investigated daily associations between helping behaviors and emotional well-being during late adolescence, examining whether these links depend on the recipient of help (i.e., friend vs. roommate), type of help (i.e., instrumental vs. emotional), and individual differences in the helper (i.e., gender and empathy). First-year college students (N=411, 63.5% women, Mage =18.62years) completed diary checklists for eight days, reporting whether they provided instrumental and emotional support to a friend or roommate, and positive and negative emotions. On days that adolescents provided instrumental assistance to friends they felt more positive affect, but men also felt more negative affect. Providing instrumental and emotional support to roommates and providing emotional support to friends did not predict daily emotions.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/jora.12572

    View details for PubMedID 32776635

  • The Earliest Origins of Genetic Nurture: The Prenatal Environment Mediates the Association Between Maternal Genetics and Child Development. Psychological science Armstrong-Carter, E., Trejo, S., Hill, L. J., Crossley, K. L., Mason, D., Domingue, B. W. 2020: 956797620917209


    Observed genetic associations with educational attainment may be due to direct or indirect genetic influences. Recent work highlights genetic nurture, the potential effect of parents' genetics on their child's educational outcomes via rearing environments. To date, few mediating childhood environments have been tested. We used a large sample of genotyped mother-child dyads (N = 2,077) to investigate whether genetic nurture occurs via the prenatal environment. We found that mothers with more education-related genes are generally healthier and more financially stable during pregnancy. Further, measured prenatal conditions explain up to one third of the associations between maternal genetics and children's academic and developmental outcomes at the ages of 4 to 7 years. By providing the first evidence of prenatal genetic nurture and showing that genetic nurture is detectable in early childhood, this study broadens our understanding of how parental genetics may influence children and illustrates the challenges of within-person interpretation of existing genetic associations.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0956797620917209

    View details for PubMedID 32484377

  • Biological sensitivity to context in Pakistani preschoolers: Hair cortisol and family wealth are interactively associated with girls' cognitive skills. Developmental psychobiology Armstrong-Carter, E., Finch, J. E., Siyal, S., Yousafzai, A. K., Obradovic, J. 2020


    Many young children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) face heightened risk for experiencing environmental adversity, which is linked with poorer developmental outcomes. Children's stress physiology can shed light on why children are differentially susceptible to adversity. However, no known studies have examined whether links between adversity and children's development are moderated by children's stress physiology in LMICs. The present study revealed significant interactive effects of hair cortisol concentrations, an index of chronic physiological stress regulation, and family wealth on preschoolers' cognitive skills in rural Pakistan. In a sample of 535 4-year-old children (n=342 girls), we found significant associations between family wealth and direct assessments of verbal intelligence, pre-academic skills, and executive functions only in girls with lower hair cortisol concentrations. Specifically, girls with lower cortisol concentrations displayed greater cognitive skills if they came from relatively wealthier families, but lower cognitive skills if they came from very poor families. There were no significant associations among boys. Results provide evidence of biological sensitivity to context among young girls in a LMIC, perhaps reflecting, in part, sex differences in daily experiences of environmental adversity.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/dev.21981

    View details for PubMedID 32458442

  • Role Fulfillment Mediates the Association Between Daily Family Assistance and Cortisol Awakening Response in Adolescents CHILD DEVELOPMENT Armstrong-Carter, E., Ivory, S., Lin, L. C., Muscatell, K. A., Telzer, E. H. 2020; 91 (3): 754–68

    View details for DOI 10.1111/cdev.13213

    View details for Web of Science ID 000534258400021

  • Family meals buffer the daily emotional risk associated with family conflict. Developmental psychology Armstrong-Carter, E., Telzer, E. H. 2020


    Family meals have been associated with positive adolescent outcomes in cross-sectional and longitudinal research. However, it is not known how adolescents experience family meals on a daily basis, and whether family meals buffer stresses associated with interpersonal conflicts on the daily level. To address this gap in the literature, adolescents (N = 396, 58% female, Mage = 14.57 years) completed diary checklists for up to 14 days, reporting their emotions, experiences of family and peer conflict, and whether they ate with their family that day. On days that adolescents shared a family meal, they felt greater happiness and role fulfillment, and less burnout and distress. Moreover, family conflict was associated with more negative emotionality only on days that adolescents did not also eat with the family. Findings suggest that family meals buffer daily risks associated with familial conflicts. Follow-up analyses suggest that these processes may be particularly important among older adolescents. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/dev0001111

    View details for PubMedID 32986450

  • A Unifying Approach for Investigating and Understanding Youth's Help and Care for the Family CHILD DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVES Armstrong-Carter, E., Olson, E., Telzer, E. 2019

    View details for DOI 10.1111/cdep.12336

    View details for Web of Science ID 000479883500001

  • Role Fulfillment Mediates the Association Between Daily Family Assistance and Cortisol Awakening Response in Adolescents. Child development Armstrong-Carter, E., Ivory, S., Lin, L. C., Muscatell, K. A., Telzer, E. H. 2019


    Family assistance (helping the family) is associated with both positive and negative psychological and biological outcomes during adolescence. However, the association between family assistance and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis remains unstudied. Thus, we assess how helping the family relates to adolescents' diurnal cortisol, an index of HPA activity, and psychological outcomes. Three hundred and seventy ethnically diverse adolescents (ages 11-18) reported daily helping behaviors and psychological experiences for 14days and provided four saliva samples per day for 4days. Multilevel modeling revealed that cortisol awakening response was lower the day after adolescents helped their families more. This association was explained, in part, by perceived role fulfillment (feeling like a good son, daughter, and sibling). Results highlight a possible psychological and biological benefit of assisting the family during adolescence.

    View details for PubMedID 30629290