Active Research Projects

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Kerr’s primary research interests are in the underpinnings and developmental course of youth psychopathology and health risk. One area of focus has been understanding how suicide risk unfolds over time. In two recent papers, he described patterns of young males’ suicidal thinking from early adolescence to early adulthood, and then tested a model wherein thoughts of suicide are self-perpetuating. That is, suicidal thinking itself increases risk for future thoughts of suicide, beyond the influence of potent risk factors (depressive symptoms, substance use, parental psychopathology). Dr. Kerr also has worked on large studies of hospitalized suicidal adolescents to compare the predictive validity of assessment instruments and dimensions of suicidal thinking; to identify subgroups of adolescents at high risk for suicide attempt; and to understand the effects of a social support intervention on suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Dr. Kerr has recently focused on youth health-risking sexual behavior, as well. He is currently collaborating on projects examining how romantic partners’ risky sexual histories and negative health outcomes are associated over time, and how delinquent girls’ sexual behaviors and outcomes change following foster care placement. Finally, Dr. Kerr works on two studies of the intergenerational transmission of problem behavior and internalizing symptoms. The first, is a prospective study of three generations of individuals. On this project, he investigates how intergenerational continuities in poor and strong parenting, deviant contexts, and individual psychopathology influence youth adjustment and health risk. The second is a large adoption study of gene-environment interactions, in which the effects of biological parents’ characteristics on offspring temperamental risk depend on experiences in the adoptive family. Dr. Kerr is a licensed psychologist.

Selected Publications

  • Kerr, D. C. R., Capaldi, D. M., Pears, K. C., & Owen, L. D. (2012). Intergenerational influences on early alcohol use: Independence from the problem behavior pathway. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 889-906.

  • Kerr, D., Leve, L. D., & Chamberlain, P. (2009). Pregnancy rates among juvenile justice girls in two RCTs of Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77, 588-593.

  • Kerr, D. C. R., Capaldi, D. M., Pears, K. C., & Owen, L. D. (2009). A prospective three generational study of fathers’ constructive parenting: Influences from family of origin, adolescent adjustment, and offspring temperament. Developmental Psychology, 45, 1257-1275.

  • Kerr, D. C. R., Owen, L. D., & Capaldi, D. M. (2008). Suicidal ideation and its recurrence in boys and men from early adolescence to early adulthood: An event history analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 625-636.

  • Kerr, D. C. R., DeGarmo, D. S., Leve, L. D., & Chamberlain, P. (2014).  Juvenile justice girls’ depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation nine years after Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 82(4), 684-93. doi: 10.1037/a0036521

  • Kerr, D. C. R., Shaman, J., Washburn, I., J., Vuchinich, S., Neppl, T. K., Capaldi, D. M., & Conger, R. D. (2013). Two longterm studies of seasonal variation in depressive symptoms among community participants. Journal of Affective Disorders, 151, 837-842.

  • Kerr, D., Leve, L. D., Harold, G. T., Natsuaki, M., Neiderhiser, J., Shaw, D. S., & Reiss, D. (2013). Influences of biological and adoptive mothers’ depression and antisocial behavior on adoptees’ early behavior trajectories. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41, 723-734.