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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology


Angela Narayan

Dr. Narayan is interested in taking a new graduate student for Fall 2021. She will review applications from students applying to either Affective/Social/Cognitive, Clinical, or Developmental Psychology programs.

Areas of expertise/research interests

  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Early adversity and traumatic stress
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Pregnancy
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Multicultural influences on development
  • Resilience

Current Research and Projects

My research program is grounded in a developmental psychopathology perspective and investigates how early adversities (e.g., maltreatment, violence exposure, poverty and homelessness, parental psychopathology, war and disaster) in parents' histories and their children's family environments affect psychological health and wellbeing. My goals are to understand the enduring nature of early experiences and the mediating and moderating processes that account for lifespan and intergenerational pathways of risk and resilience.

I focus my research on hard-to-reach populations, including residentially-unstable, impoverished families, and young, low-income pregnant women and fathers-to-be. I am invested in employing measures that span multiple levels of analysis, ranging from parents' expressed emotion and biomarkers of stress to observed parent-child interactions and cultural influences on parenting and child development. To address my goals, I conduct three interrelated lines of research to:

1. Understand how the developmental timing of early adversity and benevolent experiences affect lifespan and intergenerational pathways of risk and resilience
2. Develop effective methodologies that assess protective processes to buffer the effects of early adversity on maladaptive functioning
3. Advance the parenting and resilience literatures through systematic review, data aggregation, and meta-analytic techniques

I am presently focusing my research on the pregnancy period as a transformative period in the intergenerational transmission of risk and resilience. A key research objective is to understand how early childhood adversity, cumulative risk, mental health, relationship support and conflict, and prenatal attributions interplay to affect the psychological functioning, parenting, and wellbeing of pregnant women, fathers-to-be, and their babies and older siblings. I am currently the PI of a longitudinal study that assesses these developmental and transactional processes across generations in Denver families who are expecting a baby. I am also the co-PI of a multi-wave study that assessed these intergenerational processes in 101 pregnant women who delivered their babies in San Francisco.

Another line of my work currently examines how various protective processes, such as positive emotions and warmth in romantic and parent-child relationships and childhood memories of loving care, buffer the intergenerational transmission of risk in high-risk adolescents, adults, and parents with histories of childhood adversity. I am particularly interested in identifying efficient yet effective protective processes that can be drawn upon as internal (e.g., cognitive, emotional) and interpersonal (e.g., relational, parenting) resources to promote resilience. I also have a particular interest in understanding methodological nuances in the assessment of traumatic stress, such as how psychopathology and unresolved trauma affect recollections and reporting of early life experiences.

In the University of Denver's Department of Psychology, I am the director of the PROTECT Lab (Promoting Resilience in Offspring and Targeting Early Childhood Trajectories).


  • PhD, Clinical Child Psychology, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, 2015
  • MA, Child Psychology, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, 2011
  • BA, Psychology, Cornell University, 2007 

Selected Publications (full publication list here)

  • Narayan, A. J., Rivera, L. M., Bernstein, R. E., Harris, W. W., & Lieberman, A. F. (2018). Positive childhood experiences predict less psychopathology and stress in pregnant women with childhood adversity: A pilot study of the benevolent childhood experiences (BCEs) scale. Child Abuse and Neglect, 78, 19-30.
  • Narayan, A. J., Labella, M. H., Englund, M. M., Carlson, E. A., & Egeland, B. (2017). The legacy of early childhood violence exposure to adulthood intimate partner violence: Variable- and person-oriented evidence. Journal of Family Psychology, 31, 883-843.
  • Narayan, A. J., Ghosh Ippen, C., Harris, W. W., & Lieberman, A. F. (2017). Assessing angels in the nursery: A pilot study of childhood memories of benevolent caregiving as protective influences. Infant Mental Health Journal, 38, 461-474.
  • Narayan, A. J., Rivera, L. M., Bernstein, R. E., Castro, G., Gantt, T., Thomas, M., Nau, M., Harris, W. W., & Lieberman, A. F. (2017). Between pregnancy and motherhood: Identifying unmet mental health needs in pregnant women with lifetime adversity. Zero to Three Journal, 37, 4-13
  • Narayan, A. J., Kalstabakken, A. W., Labella, M. H., Nerenberg, L. S., Monn, A. R., & Masten, A. S. (2017). Intergenerational continuity of adverse childhood experiences: Unpacking exposure to maltreatment versus family dysfunction. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87, 3-14.
  • Narayan, A. J., Hagan, M. J., Cohodes, E., Rivera, L. M., & Lieberman, A. F. (2016). Early childhood victimization and physical intimate partner violence during pregnancy: A developmental and person-oriented approach. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
  • Narayan, A. J., Oliver Bucio, G., Rivera, L. M., & Lieberman, A. F. (2016). Making sense of the past creates space for the baby: Perinatal Child-Parent Psychotherapy for pregnant women with childhood trauma. Zero to Three Journal, 36, 22-28.
  • Narayan, A. J. (2015). Personal, dyadic, and contextual resilience in parents experiencing homelessness. Clinical Psychology Review, 36, 56-69.