Margaret Owen

Interim Dean of School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Professor and Program Head - Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Tags: Psychological Sciences

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Developmental Psychology
University of Michigan - 1981
M.A. - Human Development
University of Kansas - 1975
B.A. - Psychology
Oberlin College - 1974

Research Areas

Research Interests

My research focuses on children's environmental contexts particularly children's home experiences and child-care experiences and how they relate to the child's development. I study linkages both within and across environmental contexts. Within the family, I study relations among mother-child, father-child, and husband-wife relationships, and I examine how qualities of these relationships are associated with children's development. I have studied how a collaborating partnership between parent and child-care provider benefits parent-child and caregiver-child interactions and, in turn, relates to children's developing competence.

In my current research we have recently begun a study of preschoolers' self regulation skills and racial/ethnic disparities in school readiness. We are recruiting 360 low income preschoolers and their families to study how they develop skills in self regulation and other social and cognitive abilities that predict their later success in school.

Publications

Owen, M. T., Caughy, M.O., Hurst, J. M., Amos, M., Hasanizadeh, N., & Mata-Otero, A. (2013). Contributions of fathering and mothering to emerging self regulation in low-income ethnic minority preschoolers. Early Child Development and Car, 183, 464-482. 2013 - Publication
Else-Quest, N. M., Clark, R., & Owen, M. T. (2011). Stability in mother-child interactions from infancy through adolescence. Parenting: Science and Practice. 2011 - Publication
Klausli, J. F., & Owen, M. T. (2011). Exploring actor and partner effects in associations between marriage and parenting for mothers and fathers. Parenting: Science and Practice. 2011 - Publication
 McCartney, K., Burchinal, M., Clarke-Stewart, A., Owen, M.T., Bub, K., Belsky, J., and the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2010). Testing a series of causal propositions relating time spent in child care to children’s externalizing behavior.Developmental Psychology, 46, 1-17.   2010 - Publication
 Klausli, J.F., & Owen, M.T. (2009). Maternal cohabitation and characteristics of the home environment across the child’s first two years. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 103-106.    2009 - Publication
Owen, M.T., Klausli, J .K., Mata-Otero, A., & Caughy, M. (i2008). Relationship-focused childcare practices: Quality of care and child outcomes for children in poverty. Early Education and Development, 19, 302-329. 2008 - Publication
Belsky, J., Vandell, D.L., Burchinal, M., Clarke-Stewart, K.A., McCartney, K., Owen, M.T., and The NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2007). Are there long-term effects of early child care? Child Development, 78, 681-701. 2007 - Publication
Campbell, S., Spieker, S., Burchinal, M., Poe, M., and NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2006). Trajectories of aggression from toddlerhood to age 9 predict academic and social functioning through age 12. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 791-800. 2006 - Publication
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2006). The relations of classroom contexts in the early elementary years to children's classroom and social behavior. In A.C. Huston and M.N. Ripke (Eds.), Developmental contexts in middle childhood: Bridges to adolescence and adulthood (pp. 217-236). New York: Cambridge University Press. 2006 - Publication
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2006). Infant-mother attachment: Risk and protection in relation to changing maternal caregiving quality. Developmental Psychology, 42, 38-58. 2006 - Publication

Appointments

Director, Center for Children and Families
The University of Texas at Dallas [2009–Present]
Professor of Psychology
The University of Texas at Dallas [2001–Present]
Program Head
The University of Texas at Dallas [1997–Present]
Clinical Associate Professor
University of Texas Southwestern Medical School [1996–Present]
Associate Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [1995–2001]
Associate Director
Timberlawn Psychiatric Research Foundation [1993–1995]
Adjunct Professor of Psychology
Texas Christian University [1992–1993]
Director of Developmental Research
Timberlawn Psychiatric Research Foundation, Dallas, Texas [1990–1992]
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Texas Southwestern Medical School [1986–1996]
Research Psychologist
Timberlawn Psychiatric Research Foundation, Dallas, Texas [1984–1990]

Projects

Early child care and mother-child interaction: From 36 months through the transition to first grade.
2004–2004 Owen, M.T. (2004, April). Paper presented at the biennial meetings of the Conference on Human Development, Washington, D.C.
The dynamics of coparenting in family interactions.
2005–2005 Vaughn, A., Owen, M.T., & Barfoot, B. (April, 2005). Poster presented at the biennial meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Atlanta.
Changes in cognitive and social development for children in poverty associated with relationship focused child care experience.
2006–2006 Owen, M.T., Klausli, J.F., & Mata-Otero, A. (2006, March). Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Human Development, Ft. Worth, TX.
Couple relationship quality in the association between maritalstatus and child aajustment.
2005–2005 Klausli, J .F., & Owen, M.T. (April, 2005). Poster presented at the biennial meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Atlanta.
Similarities and differences in mothers ' and fathers ' parenting qualities in early and middle childhood.
2007–2007 Milling, L., Little, l.E., & Owen, M.T. (2007, March). Poster to be presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston.

Additional Information

Personal Statement

My research focuses on children's development in the context of family relationships and the implications of maternal employment and early child care experiences for children's development and family relationships. In these interrelated pursuits her research has contributed to greater understanding of what constitute important interpersonal influences in children's lives, how family relations and child care experiences influence the young child's development, and how contexts of development are interrelated.

Some of my early work documents the influence of close, confiding marriages in the development of involved, sensitive mother-infant and father-infant interactions and, in turn, the development of secure infant-parent attachment relationships. It also addresses the detrimental effects of parents' marital conflict on children's attachments to their parents, particularly with respect to insecure/disorganized qualities in the infant-parent relationship.

I was a Co-Principal Investigator in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development 1990-2007, collaborating with investigators across the country in a prospective longitudinal study of the effects of early child care on over 1300 children and their families. The study followed the children from birth through age 15, guided by an ecological developmental framework that brings together information about the child care environment, the home and family, school experiences, peer experiences, and individual differences among children in understanding trajectories of children’s development across multiple domains. One of my contributions to the study was in designing the protocol for the longitudinal assessments of mother-child and father-child interactions and training and supervising the ratings of all of the study’s videotapes of parent-child interactions from 6 months through age 15 years.

Findings from the study have addressed (1) characteristics of child care for infants and toddlers across various types and forms of care; (2) associations found between the use of child care and demographic and attitudinal characteristics of families; and (3) associations between child-care experiences and children's relationships with their mothers, adaptive and maladaptive social behavior, cognitive and language development, peer relations, qualities of mother-child interaction, health, and school achievement from preschool through middle school. Effects of early child care have been documented through adolescence. In addition numerous reports of developmental processes in children have been published from the study. In current follow-up work, we are studying the teens’ romantic relationships and attachment styles in their senior year of high school.

In the Dallas Child Care Project, we studied developmental effects of relationship-focused child care for low-income ethnically diverse children in Dallas and variations in the quality of care provided by accredited centers serving low-income children in the Dallas area.

Professional and Community Service
  • Infant Mental Health Endorsement project, Texas Association for Infant Mental Health, 2005-present.
  • Technical Committee, Bom Learning, United Way of Greater Dallas
  • Board of Trustees, Greenhill School, 1999-2006.
  • Consultant, First Impressions, a multi-year family infomiation campaign, KERA Public Television, 1999.
  • Board Member, Timberlawn Psychiatric Research Foundation, 1993-present.
  • Board Member, The Family Comiection, Dallas, TX, 1995-2001.
  • Research Consultant, Institute of Behavioral Research, Texas Christian University, Evaluation of Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Salvation Anny First Choice Program, 1996-97.
  • Planning Committee, Babies Cant Wait Conference, Texas Association for Infant Mental Health and Tarrant County Community College, April 1995.
  • Community Advisory Board, Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders Program, University of Texas at Dallas, 1994-95.
  • Co-Chair, Babies Cant Wait Project, A Joint Project of the Dallas County Child Protective Services and Texas Association for Infant Mental Health, 1993.
  • Advocacy Committee, Texas Association for Infant Mental Health, 1992-96.
  • Program Co-Chair, Southwestem Society for Research in Human Development, 1994 meeting.
  • President, Texas Association for Infant Mental Health, 1991-92.
  • Local Arrangements Chair, Southwestern Society for Research in Human Development, 1990 meeting.
  • Executive Committee, Southwestern Society for Research in Human Development, 1988-92.
  • Executive Committee, Texas Association for Infant Mental Health, 1990-93.
  • Board Member, Texas Association for Infant Mental Health, 1988-93.

News Articles

Study: Parent-Child Interactions Contribute to Language Success
A new study co-authored by a UT Dallas professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciencesdetails that the quality of interactions between young children and their parents is just as important — if not more important — as the quantity of words children experience in determining later language ability.

Dr. Margaret Tresch Owen, Robinson Family Professor and director of the Center for Children and Families, said previous studies have found that the small number of words heard by children in some homes — particularly in those of low-income families — has been strongly linked with poor language skills. This has become known as the “30 million word gap,” representing the differences found in both the number of words heard and vocabulary differences between children from low- and high-income families.
NIH Grant to Fund Study of Preschoolers’ Behavior
Dr. Margaret T. Owen, professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and director of the Center for Children and Families, has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study preschoolers living in Dallas.

Owen, along with research colleague Dr. Margaret O. Caughy of the University of Texas School of Public Health, received a $1.2 million, two-year grant from the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Owen and Caughy will study self-regulation and race/ethnic disparities in school readiness among the preschoolers.

The research team will visit the preschoolers in their homes to assess their abilities to regulate and control their impulses and behavior from ages 2½ to 4 years, a period of time in which they are rapidly acquiring these skills and abilities.
School Readiness Study Moves Forward with More Funding, Findings
A project conducted by researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas has entered its third round of funding in determining how various factors combine to influence the development of school readiness and success of urban minorities.

The Dallas Project on Education Pathways (DPReP), which began as the Dallas Preschool Readiness Project in 2009, is one of the nation’s first and longest longitudinal studies of childhood self-regulation development and its implications among African-American and Hispanic children.

Funding

Self Regulation and Race/Ethnic Disparities in School Readiness
$586,140 - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, R01-HD058643-01A1, M.O. Caughy, PI [2009–2011]
Father Care: Levels, Sources, and Consequences
$150,000 - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, R03-HD057351 [2008–2010]
Relationship-Centered Child Care and Development of Children in Poverty
$37,165 - Timberlawn Foundation [2005–2006]
Relationship-Centered Child Care and Development of Children in Poverty
$29,980 - Timberlawn Foundation [2003–2004]
Relationship-Centered Child Care and Children's Development Through the Transition to School
$89,239 - The Child Care Group, Salesmanship Club [2002–2007]