Heather Prime

  • Lawson Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow

Heather is a Lawson Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow, under the mentorship of Drs. Terry Bennett and Andrea Gonzalez. She completed her Ph.D. in School and Clinical Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Jenkins. Her program of research investigates the etiology of child development and mental health, with a focus on family environments as both risk and protective factors. She has a special interest in family patterns of interaction in early childhood including how such patterns come to be and how they contribute to children’s developmental trajectories. With her colleagues, Heather has developed a brief ‘thin-slice’ observational assessment of cognitive sensitivity – the extent to which one interaction partner identifies and sensitively responds to the inferred internal states of the other during dyadic interactions. This measure has been used with marital, parent-child, and sibling dyads, as well as in early childhood education settings.


Current Activities

In her time at the Offord Centre for Child Studies, Heather intends to establish an independent developmental and intervention science research program with a focus on understanding and supporting the role of family processes in early childhood. She will contribute to the Canadian adaptation and evaluation of the Family Check Up – a multi-modal, multi-informant family-based assessment and early intervention. In addition, she plans to collaborate with the Child and Youth Mental Health Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital on their clinical research program, with a focus on evaluating the use of observational measures in a tertiary mental health setting.


Prime, H., Plamondon, A., & Jenkins, J. (2017). Birth order and preschool children’s cooperative abilities: A within-family analysis. British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Prime, H., Plamondon, A., Pauker, S., Perlman, M., & Jenkins, J. M. (2016). Sibling cognitive sensitivity as a moderator of the relationship between sibship size and children’s theory of mind: A longitudinal analysis.Cognitive Development 93-102.

Prime, H., Browne, D., Akbari, E., Wade, M., Madigan, S., & Jenkins, J. (2015). The development of a measure of maternal cognitive sensitivity appropriate for use in primary care health settings. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 488-495.

Prime, H., Pauker, S., Plamondon, A., Perlman, M., & Jenkins, J. (2014). Sibship size, sibling cognitive sensitivity, and children’s receptive vocabulary.Pediatrics(2), e394-e401.

For further publications click here.

Contact Heather


Research Interests

  • Risk and protective factors in early childhood development and mental health
  • Family patterns of interaction (contributors and consequences)
  • Methodological approaches to studying directionality and causality in human development


Education, Memberships & Certifications

  • Ph.D. (School and Clinical Child Psychology), Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.
  • M.A. (School and Clinical Child Psychology), Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.
  • B.A. (Honours Psychology), McGill University.