University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Psychological Science

Susan Fenstermacher

Psychology Department Lecturer

Susan Fenstermacher

Susan Fenstermacher
Senior Lecturer

  • B.S. Pennsylvania State University, 1996
  • M.A. Boston University, 2000
  • Ph.D. Boston University, 2009
  • C.V. (PDF)
Phone: (802) 656-0882
Room: 334


My primary research interests span the areas of social development, behavior genetics, and media. Specifically, I am interested in exploring both the internal (cognitive, genetic, neuropsychological), and external (social, environmental/contextual) mechanisms contributing to individual differences in observational learning and processing of social stimuli, and the interaction of these mechanisms across development.

Some specific areas of interest include:

  • Examining associations between various modes of early observational learning (spontaneous and elicited imitation/emulation) and how variability in these behaviors relates to broader sociocognitive development.
  • Identifying aspects of children's environments that may contribute to how efficiently they learn, process, and retain new behaviors and skills, for example contextual influences such as social referencing, social interactions, and methods of framing and presenting new information.
  • Investigating the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors to individual differences in learning and social cognition, and how these influences change or remain stable across development.
  • Exploring the varied impacts of screen media on early cognitive and social development and behaviors, design of media products marketed to children, and ways in which media may be employed as an effective tool to facilitate learning.

Representative Publications

  • Fenstermacher, S. K., Barr, R., Brey, E., Pempek, T. A., Ryan, M., Calvert, S. L., Shwery, C. E. and Linebarger, D.L. (2010). Interactional quality depicted in infant and toddler videos: where are the interactions?. Infant and Child Development, 19: 594-612.
  • Fenstermacher, S. K., Barr, R., Salerno, K., Garcia, A., Shwery, C. E., Calvert, S. L. and Linebarger, D. L. (2010). Infant-directed media: an analysis of product information and claims. Infant and Child Development, 19: 557-576.
  • Vaala, S. E., Linebarger, D. L., Fenstermacher, S. K., Tedone, A., Brey, E., Barr, R., Moses, A., Shwery, C. E. and Calvert, S. L. (2010). Content analysis of language-promoting teaching strategies used in infant-directed media. Infant and Child Development, 19: 628-648.
  • Fenstermacher, S.K. & Saudino, K.J. (2010). Not simply IQ: Spontaneous and elicited imitation as independent predictors of cognitive performance at the phenotypic and genetic levels. Manuscript in preparation.
  • Fenstermacher, S.K. & Saudino, K.J. (2010). Genetic and environmental influences on imitation in young children: Links with cognitive ability and temperament. Manuscript under review.
  • Fenstermacher, S.K. & Saudino, K.J. (2007). Toddler see, toddler do? Genetic and environmental influences on laboratory-assessed elicited imitation. Behavior Genetics, 37, 639-647.
  • Fenstermacher, S.K. & Saudino, K.J. (2006). Understanding individual differences in young children's imitative behavior. Developmental Review, 26, 346-364. (Cited as one of the top ten most downloaded Developmental Review papers of 2006)

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