KC Haydon, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education

Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship

KC Haydon's research is at the forefront of new discoveries in the fields of social and developmental psychology. She examines the developmental origins of how people behave in their closest relationships – how they resolve conflicts, regulate and express emotions, and support each other. She also studies how close relationships with parents, friends, and romantic partners contribute to developmental outcomes, such as navigating the transition to adulthood.

KC has established an impeccable national and international reputation. Her work on childhood and adult attachment is among the most important in the field. Her work makes important theoretical contributions, is methodologically rigorous, and uses sophisticated data analytic tools. KC’s research productivity is remarkable; her work has been cited nearly 1500 times.

KC’s work has been so valuable because of the sophisticated and complicated methodologies she uses. KC’s work relies on two major methodological paradigms: longitudinal data collection and observation data collection on couple dyads. Because of the work that KC began in graduate school, she has access to a large-scale longitudinal study of development from infancy to adulthood. She and her students have been able to use these data to answer important questions about the developmental antecedents of relationship functioning. This is significant because the majority of research on this topic tends to rely on retrospective methods – asking adults to recall and reflect on their early childhood experiences. Although retrospective methods have their place, they are limited in obvious ways for those who truly wish to understand how early relationship experiences predict adult relationship functioning. By using prospective longitudinal data, KC has been able to identify specific aspects of people's developmental histories that predict the way they function in their adult relationships.

As one example, she and her colleagues found that children who were relatively secure in their parental relationships at age 1 were more likely to be socially competent in childhood. This, in turn, predicted better functioning friendship relationships in adolescence, which, in turn, predicted effective emotion regulation in couple conflict discussions in adulthood. This was one of the first papers to fully trace aspects of early attachment forward into adult romantic relationships using longitudinal methods. Not surprisingly, the article has been cited nearly 600 times, making it a modern citation classic in the study of close relationships.

KC also studies interpersonal influences on romantic relationship formation and stability, and this work is supported by the National Science Foundation. She has couples discuss a major source of conflict in their relationship, followed by a discussion of an area of agreement, and these conversations are followed up with reports on daily sleep behavior and conflicts. The proposal – looking at the relational predictors of sleep quality – moves KC into what is being recognized as an increasingly crucial topic – links between social functioning and physical health qualities.

KC’s teaching is just as remarkable as her scholarship. She teaches introduction to psychology, developmental psychology, a seminar in close relationships across the lifespan, and a lab in observational methods that focuses on romantic relationships. KC consistently receives rave reviews across her courses. KC’s pedagogical talents, combined with her sophisticated interpersonal skills, enable her to create courses that are engaging and challenging, but also very supportive of student learning. KC’s teaching is characterized by her enthusiasm and passion for the content. She expects a great deal from her students, and she works hard to create an inclusive environment in her classroom. It is not surprising that KC often has long waitlists for her courses.

KC is an invaluable researcher, teacher, mentor, and colleague. The Mount Holyoke community is fortunate to have her in our ranks. We are delighted to present her with the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.