Child Development and School Psychology, University of Minnesota
Cohort Eight Fellow

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Academic Mentor
Melissa Koenig, PhD
Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

Policy Mentor
Amy Susman-Stillman, PhD
Director of Applied Research and Training, Center for Early Education and Development, University of Minnesota

Areas of Expertise
Early Childhood Education and Initiatives, K-12 Education and School SystemsLow-Income Families and Individuals


Katherine Ridge is a doctoral student at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, studying child development. At the University of Minnesota, she is also a student in the Department of Educational Psychology, pursuing graduate degrees in Educational Psychology and in Education and School Psychological Services. With Drs. Dante Cicchetti and Melissa Koenig, her research primarily focuses on the role of early experiences, particularly abuse and neglect, in children's willingness to place trust in others. Prior to graduate school, Ms. Ridge received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Temple University where she developed an inexpensive, unobtrusive intervention to bolster conversation between parents and their children in low-socioeconomic communities. Ms. Ridge plans to use her research on the foundations of early relationships to support the development of positive, caring relationships in school settings, especially in children at risk for negative academic and socio-emotional outcomes.


Effects of Maltreatment on Children's Selective Trust

Child maltreatment can jeopardize development across many domains of adaptation. Children’s positive relationships with caring adults act as protective factors against adverse outcomes, with trust serving as an important mechanism in those relationships. Moreover, by trusting others, children gain not only protection, but much of their knowledge. Despite the role that trust is known to play in fostering supportive and strong relationships in adults, less is known about how young children’s trust is influenced by attachment relationships and the implications this has for their well-being. This dissertation investigates the degree to which the quality of children’s early maternal relationship forms the foundation for their judgments to trust and mistrust. It is the first study of selective trust capacities in maltreated as well as non-maltreated children from low-socioeconomic backgrounds and will provide novel insight into normative trust development as well as theory-based prevention and intervention efforts.