Martha Wadsworth



Director of Clinical Training, Professor of Psychology
Preferred Pronouns: she/her/hers
216 Moore Building University Park, Pa 16802
(814) 865-2878


Ph.D., University of Vermont, 2001

Professional Bio

Research Interests

Martha Wadsworth’s research program aims to develop a rich, contextual understanding of how children in poverty adapt to their difficult life circumstances. Through a biologically informed stress-and-coping lens, Dr. Wadsworth’s work focuses on identifying individual, family, and community strengths that promote positive outcomes for youths exposed to poverty-related stress and trauma. She also develops and evaluates youth, family, school, and community-level interventions that target these strengths and assets rather than deficits.

Selected Publications

Wadsworth, M.E., McDonald, A., Joos, C.M., Ahlkvist, J.A., Perzow, S.E., Tilghman-Osborne, E.M., Creavey, K., & Brelsford, G.  (2019). Reducing the Biological and Psychological Toxicity of Poverty-related Stress: Building a Strong Identity and Coping Skills. American Journal of Community Psychology.

McDonald, A., Thompson, A., Perzow, S.E.P., & Wadsworth, M.E. (2019). Depression Symptoms in Mothers and Fathers Raising Children in Poverty. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Joos, C.M., McDonald, A., & Wadsworth, M.E. (2019). Unpacking Toxic Stress: Risk and Protective Factors in Highly Vulnerable Youths.  Psychoneuroendocrinology. 107, 46-58https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.05.002

Wadsworth, M.E., Broderick, A.V., Loughlin-Presnal, J.E., Bendezú, J.J., Joos, C., Ahlkvist, J.A., Perzow, S.E.D.,  & McDonald, A. (2019). Co-activation of SAM and HPA Responses to Acute Stress: A Review of the Literature and Test of Differential Associations with Preadolescents’ Internalizing and Externalizing. Developmental Psychobiology.

Bendezú, J.J., Loughlin-Presnal, J. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2019). Attachment Security Moderates Effects of Uncontrollable Stress on Children’s HPA Reactivity. Clinical Psychological Science.

Broderick, A.V., Brelsford, G., & Wadsworth, M.E. (2019). Individual Differences in Mothers’ and Fathers’ Marital and Coparenting Relationships. Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Patallo, B. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2019). Stress and coping. The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development. Wiley.

Mayo, C.M. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2019). Poverty and economic strain. Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development. Elsevier.

Wadsworth, M.E., Kraschnewski, J., Brelsford, G.M., & Sekhar, D. (2019). Building capacity for community-engaged research: Penn State Universty’s faculty fellowship program. Journal of Clinical and Translational Research, 3, 84-85. https://doi.org/10.1017/cts.2019.195

Wadsworth, M. E., Ahlkvist, J. A., McDonald, A., & Tilghman-Osborne, E. (2018). Future directions in research and intervention with youths in poverty. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 47:6, 1023-1038, DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2018.1485108

Buss, K. A., Jaffee, S., Wadsworth, M. E., & Kliewer, W. (2018). Impact of psychophysiological stress-response systems on psychological development: Moving beyond the single biomarker approach. Developmental Psychology, 54(9), 1601.

Wadsworth, M. E., Bendezú, J. J., Loughlin-Presnal, J., Ahlkvist, J. A., Tilghman-Osborne, E… (2018). Unlocking the black box: A multilevel analysis of preadolescent children’s coping. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 47(4), 527-541. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2016.114

Joos, C.M., Wodzinski, A.M., Wadsworth, M.E., & Dorn, L. (2018). Neither Antecedent nor Consequence: Developmental Integration of Chronic Stress, Pubertal Timing, and Functionally Adapted Stress Responses. Developmental Review, 48, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2018.05.001

Perzow, S.E.D., Bray, B.C. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2018).  Stress Response Profiles and Behavioral Functioning Among Low-income Parents. Journal of Family Psychology, 17, 517-527. DOI:10.1037/fam0000403

Bendezú, J. J., & Wadsworth, M. E. (2018). Person-centered examination of salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase responses to psychosocial stress: Links to preadolescent behavioral functioning and coping. Biological Psychology, 132, 143-153. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.11.01

Wodzinski, A.M., Bendezú, J.J., & Wadsworth, M.E. (2017). Temperament, Coping, and Stress Response Relations in Preadolescent Children: The Moderating Role of Goal Orientation. Anxiety, Stress and Coping, 31:1, 79-92, DOI: 10.1080/10615806.2017.1373325

Bendezú, J.J. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2017). If the coping fits, use it: Preadolescent stress and hair cortisol differentially predict post-TSST salivary cortisol recovery. Developmental Psychobiology, 59(7), 848-862.

Bendezú, J.J., Perzow, S.E.D., & Wadsworth, M.E. (2016). What Constitutes Effective Coping and Efficient Physiologic Regulation following Psychosocial Stress Depends on Involuntary Stress Responses. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 73, 42-50.

Tilghman-Osborne, E.M., Bamaca-Colbert, M., Witherspoon, D., Wadsworth, M.E., & Hecht, M. (2016). Longitudinal Associations of Language Brokering and Parental Closeness in Latino Adolescents: A Cross-lagged Model. Journal of Early Adolescence, 36, 319-347.

Diemer, M., Mistry, R., Wadsworth, M.E., Lopez, I., & Riemers, F. (accepted). A Primer on Social Class: Conceptual, Empirical, and Measurement Issues in Psychological Research. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy.

Wadsworth, M.E. (2012). Working with low-income families: Insights from applied and basic research on coping with poverty-related stress. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 42, 17-26.

Wolff, B.C., Wadsworth, M.E., Wilhelm, F.H., & Mauss, I.B. (2012). Parasympathetic Reactivity Prevents Sympathetic Reactivity in Supportive Contexts: Evidence for PolyVagal Theory.  Development and Psychopathology, 24, 677-689.

Santiago, C.D., Etter, E.M., Wadsworth, M.E., & Raviv, T. (2012). Predictors of Responses to Stress Among Families Coping with Poverty-related Stress. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 25, 239-258
Mistry, R.S. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2011). Family Functioning and Child Development in the Context of Poverty. Prevention Researcher, 18(4), 11-15.

Wadsworth, M.E., Raviv, T., Santiago, C.D., & Moran, E.G. (2011).Testing the Adaptation to Poverty-related Stress Model: Predicting Psychopathology Symptoms in Families Facing Economic Hardship. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40, 646-657.

Wadsworth, M.E. & Markman, H.J. (2011). Where’s the Action? Understanding What Works and Why in Relationship Education. Behavior Therapy.

Wadsworth, M.E., Santiago, C.D., Einhorn, L., Moran, E.G., Rienks, S., & Markman, H.J. (2011). Preliminary Efficacy of an Intervention to Reduce Psychosocial Stress and Improve Coping in Low-Income Families. American Journal of Community Psychology, 48, 257-271.

Santiago, C.D. & Wadsworth, M.E. (2011). Family and Cultural influences on Low-income Latino Youths' Coping and Adjustment. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40, 332-337.

Santiago, C., Wadsworth, M.E., & Stump, J. (2011). Socioeconomic Status, Neighborhood Disadvantage, and Poverty-related stress: Longitudinal Effects on Psychological Syndromes among Diverse Low-income Families. Journal of Economic Psychology, 32, 218-230.

Rienks, S.L., Wadsworth, M.E., Markman, H.J., Einhorn, L. & Moran, EG. (2011). Father Involvement in an Ethnically Diverse Low-Income Sample: Baseline Associations and Changes Resulting from Preventive Intervention. Family Relations, 60, 191-204.

Martha Wadsworth
Martha Wadsworth


Primary Investigator:

Program Areas:

Child Clinical