Family Interaction Study

The Family Interaction Study involved parent-child and mother-father interactions to better understand the social bonds between parents and children and how parents' biology changes when family members engage with each other. 

Research Overview

We know that mothers are critical to children's development in many ways.  Compared to our understanding of mothers' roles, we know less about the importance of fathers, especially during early life, or whether mother-father interactions can help shape how both parents impact their children.  Our prior studies have also hinted that there may be some effects of parent-child and mother-father interactions on how our bodies respond.  One of the primary goals was to learn more about parent-child relationships and how mothers and fathers interact with their infants and with each other.  The second goal was to better understand the connections between parents' biology and families engaging with one another.

Funded By

Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, University of Notre Dame

Age Group

  • Adults
  • Infants


  • Lee Gettler, Ph.D 
  • Julie Braungart-Rieker, Ph.D. 
  • E. Mark Cummings, Ph.D. 

Research Impact


  • Kuo, Patty X., Julia M. Braungart-Rieker, Jennifer E. Burke Lefever, Mallika S. Sarma, Molly O'Neill, and Lee T. Gettler. "Fathers' cortisol and testosterone in the days around infants' births predict later paternal involvement." Hormones and behavior 106 (2018): 28-34.
  • Conklin, M., Braungart-Rieker, J. M., Cummings, E. M., Lefever, J. B., Kuo, P. X., & Gettler, L. T. (2018, March). Infant temperament in US family systems: Correlations with parental care, psychobiology, and mental well-being. In American Journal of Human Biology (Vol. 30, No. 2). 111 River St, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Research Themes