Alyson Shapiro, Ph.D.

Child Development (M.S.) Advisor & Associate Professor

Child and Family Development

San Diego

Mail Code


Professional Biography

My focus as a teacher and a scholar is to promote the understanding of emotional and social development and overall wellbeing of infants, children, and families within relationship contexts. I have developed an integrated program of teaching, research, and service to further this work in the department of Child and Family Development (CFD) at San Diego State University (SDSU). I take a teacher-scholar approach and aim to further this goal through: 1) teaching; 2) developing, testing, and implementing programs for families with children; 3) conducting and disseminating high-quality, application-relevant research; 4) translating research for practitioners, educators, students, and families; and 5) advocating for children and families through professional service and outreach in the community. My specific focus is on furthering understanding of the inter-related areas of family dynamics around the transition to parenthood period, child emotional and social development within relationships, and mindfulness within relationships. I am also the Director and Graduate Advisor for the M.S. in Child Development program, and I am passionate about mentoring the development and success of both the graduate and undergraduate students I work with.

This current work is built on the education and mentorship I have been fortunate to receive. As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to conduct honors thesis work focused on infant development under the guidance of Dr. Alan Fogel. I then earned my Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Washington under the direction of Dr. John Gottman, and I am grateful for both his mentorship and continued collaboration. Finally, I received post-doctoral training in the area of Infant Mental Health under the direction of Dr. Susan Spieker at the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development at the University of Washington. I also spent several years as an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University before moving to the beautiful San Diego area and joining the faculty in the Child and Family Development department at San Diego State University. As a life long learner as well as an Associate Professor, I am actively furthering my learning process in the area of mindfulness, with the guidance of my faculty mentor, Dr. Marilee Bresciani Ludvik, in order to further my research and outreach in this area.  

Personal Biography

I facilitate work-life balance outside of work by spending time with my family and friends, meditating, doing tai chi and ba-gua (Chinese martial arts), and taking mindfulness walks and hikes to enjoy nature.


  • CFD 270: Human Development
  • CFD 335: Interactions in Culturally Diverse Families
  • CFD 370: Research Assessment and Evaluation of Children and Families
  • CFD 430: Infant and Toddler Development
  • CFD 536: Divorce and Remarriage
  • CFD 597: Field Experience in Child Development Programs
  • CFD 624: Seminar in Family Processes
  • CFD 634: Seminar in Family Processes: Prevention and Intervention Strategies to Promote the Wellbeing of Children and Families
  • CFD 790: Research Methods and Program Development
  • CFD 798: Special Topics


  • Post-doctoral training. Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health, University of Utah
  • Ph.D. Development Psychology with Child Clinical Psychology minor, University of Washington
  • B.S. Psychology, University of Utah


The underlying goal of my research program is to further the understanding of family dynamics around the transition to parenthood period, with a particular focus on understanding child emotional and social development within relationship contexts. This work is firmly rooted in the theoretical premise that children do not develop in isolation, but rather within a complex developing family system, which in turn is embedded within culture (systems theory). Thus, I consider that family dynamics must be taken into account to truly understand child development. I am interested in examining the roots of this development from pre-conception through the elementary school aged period within both high and low risk families. This dual focus enables better understanding of the family dynamics and associated buffers and risks that impact child development and wellbeing. This research agenda bridges the areas of social development, father involvement, co-parenting, couple relationships, parent-child relationships, family-focused intervention, cultural influences on families, and associations between mindfulness and relationship processes.

My passion for furthering positive family dynamics and child development also extends to my areas of focus in teaching and outreach. In additional research methodology courses, I teach (or have taught) courses focused on family processes, family interactions and theories, couple dynamics, infant and child development, and internships/ field experiences with placements associated with child and family development. I have also provided service for several non-profit organizations who further the wellbeing of infants and families including: Amethyst Center for Healing (families recovering from trauma), Infant and Toddler Mental Health Coalition of Arizona, and First Five San Diego (serving children 0 to 5). 


  • Shaprio, A.F., Gottman, J.M., & Fink, B. (2019). Father involvement when bringing baby home: An examination of the efficacy of a transition to parenthood intervention for promoting father involvement. Pre-published online. Psychological Reports 0(0), 1-19. doi: 10,1177/0033294119829436

  • Garrity, S., Shaprio, A.F., Longstreth, S., & *Bailey, J. (2019). The negotiation of Head Start teacher beliefs in a transborder community. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 47(2), 134-144. doi: 10.1016/j.ecres.2018.20.014

  • Shapiro, A.F., Jolley, S.N., Hildebrandt, U & Spieker, S.J. (2018). The effects of early postpartum depression on infant temperament. Early Child Development and Care. Pre-published online. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2018.1552947

  • Iida, M. & Shaprio, A.F. (2018) Mindfulness and daily mood variation in romantic relationships. Mindfulness. 1 - 10. Pre-published online. doi: 10.1007/s12671-018-1056-3 *Both authors contributed equally to all aspects of this paper

  • Lazarevic, V., *Crovetto, F., & Shapiro, A.F. (2018). Challenges of Latino young men and women: Examining the role of gender in discrimination and mental health. Child and Youth Services Review, 94, 173-179. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.10.006

  • Iida, M. & Shapiro, A.F. (2017) The Role of Mindfulness in Daily Relationship Process: Examining Daily Conflicts and Relationship Mood. Mindfulness, 8(6), 1559-1568. doi: 10.1007/s12671-017-0727-9

  • *Ezzatyar, A., & Shaprio, A.F (2016). An Art Therapy Based Cirricula in After-School Programs. Journal of Teacher Action Research 3(1), 1-35. ISSN: 2332 - 2233

  • Shapiro, A.F., Gottman, J.M., & Fink, B.C. (2015). Short-term change in couples' conflict following a transition to parenthood intervention. Couple and Family  Psychology: Research and Practice, 4(4), 239 - 251. doi 10.1037/cfp0000051

  • *Fink, B. C., & Shapiro, A. F. (2013). Coping style mediates the relation between marital stability and depression, but not marital satisfaction and depression. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2, 1-13. doi: 10.1037/a0031763.

  • *Pennar, A. L., Shapiro, A. F., & Krysik, J. (2012). Drug endangered children: Examining children removed from methamphetamine laboratories. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(9), 1777-1785. doi: Cited one time. 

  • Shapiro, A. F., Krysik, J., & *Pennar, A. (2011). Who are the fathers in the Healthy Families Arizona  program?  An examination of father data in at-risk families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(3). 327-336. doi: 10.1300/J005v34n01_06. Cited 6 times.

  • Shapiro, A. F., Nahm E. Y., Gottman, J. M., & Content, K. (2011). Bringing baby home together:  Examining the impact of a couple-focused intervention on the dynamics within family play. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 8(3).337-350. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01102.x. Cited two times.

  • Shapiro, A. F., & Krysik, J. (2010). Finding fathers in social work research and practice. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics,7(1). Cited 6 times.

  • Hedonbro, M., Shapiro, A. F. & Gottman, J. M. (2006). Play with me at my speed: Tempo of parent-infant interactions in the Lausanne triadic play paradigm in two cultures. Family Process. 45(4), 485-498. (primary contributions were made by both the first and second authors). Cited 8 times. 

  • Fogel, A., Hsu, H., Shapiro, A. F., Nelson-Goens, C. N., & Secrest, C. (2006). Effects of normal and perturbed social play on the duration and amplitude of different types of smiles. Developmental Psychology. 42(3), 459-473. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.42.3.459. Cited 18 times.

  • Shapiro, A. F. & Gottman, J. M. (2005). Effects on marriage of a psycho-communicative-educational intervention with couples undergoing the transition to parenthood, evaluation at 1-year post intervention. Journal of Family Communication. 5, 1-24. Cited 76 times.

  • Gottman, J. M., Shapiro, A. F., Parthemer, J. (2004). Bringing baby home: A preventative intervention program for expectant couples. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 19, 28-30. Cited 3 times.

  • Shapiro, A. F., Gottman, J. M., & Carrère, S. (2000). The baby and the marriage: Identifying factors that buffer against decline in marital satisfaction after the first baby arrives. Journal of Family Psychology. 14 (1), 59-70. Cited 260 times.

  • Fogel, A., Nelson-Goens, G., Hsu, H., & Shapiro, A. F. (2000). Do different infant smiles reflect different positive emotions? Social Development, 9(4), 497-520. doi: 0.1111/1467-9507.00140. Cited 53 times.  

  • Note: * Denotes student authors. The primary author is the first author unless otherwise indicated in parentheses. Updated May 2019 using Google Scholar.


My research focus bridges the areas of social development, father involvement, co-parenting, couple relationships, parent-child relationships, family-focused intervention, cultural influences on families, and associations between mindfulness and relationship processes.  I also supervise student research in the broader areas of parenting, parent involvement (in home and education settings), and mindfulness in child development and education settings. My current research projects are listed below.

Examining the Role of Mindfulness in the Recovery of both Victims and Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence.

Shapiro Primary Investigator, University Grants Program (UGP) grant.
This longitudinal survey design project involves following a group of both perpetrators and victims of intimate partner violence across several months of therapy involving a focus on promoting mindfulness.

Couple Communication Project: Mindfulness in Couple Relationships.

Shapiro Primary Investigator; Iida Co-Primary Investigator.
This project involves examining associations between multiple measures of couple relationships and couple communication. Measures include: observations of couple conflict discussions, couple communication about issues of stress, interviews, questionnaire measures, and salivary cortisol (stress hormone). The current focus of this research is on examining associations between mindfulness and relationship processes.

Parents to Be Project

Shapiro Primary Investigator
This research focuses on examining associations between couple relationships during pregnancy, fetal responses and development (measured through fetal ultrasound), and infant behavior and development at 4-months-old.