Karen Thorpe is Group Leader, Early development, education and care at the Institute for Social Science Research.  Her research examines the effects of children’s early life experiences on social, learning and health trajectories across the lifespan. Her particular interest is early childcare and education environments including parent work, quality of care and education  and the Early years workforce. She was Foundation Psychologist on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children at the University of Bristol, UK., led the evaluation of the Preparing School Trial for Queensland Government, led the Queensland team of the E4Kids study of quality in Australian Early Education and Care and, in partnership with Queensland Government, Goodstart Early Learning and the Creche and Kindergarten Association,  currently is leading a study of the Australian  ECEC workforce (ARC  Linkage:). In 2013 she was named by the Australian Financial Review as among Australia’s 100 Women of Influence for the impacts of her research on educational and family policy. 

Research Interests:

  • Child development
  • Parenting
  • Early education and care(ECEC) incl childcare
  • ECEC access and quality
  • Disadvantage and early education
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and educational access
  • Sleep practices in ECEC
  • Twin studies
  • Publications
    1. Raine,K., Cockshaw,W. Boyce,P. Thorpe,K. (2016) Antenatal interpersonal sensitivity is more strongly associated than perinatal depressive symptoms with postnatal mother-infant interaction quality, Archives of Women's Mental Health 19(5):917-25.
    1. Given,LM., Winkler,D.M , Willson,R. , Davidson,C.,  Danby,S.,  and Thorpe,K  (2016) Parents as co-researchers at home: Using an observational method to document young children’s use of technology , International Journal of Qualitative Methods ,  15(1) 1–9.

    1. Pattinson, C., Allan, A., Staton, S., Thorpe, K., and Smith, S.  (2016). Environmental Light Exposure is Associated with Increased Body Mass in Children. PLOS –One, 11(1), e0143578.
    2. Kunzlen, H., Bekkhus, M., Thorpe, K and Borge, AIH.  (2016) Potential traumatic events in early childhood and behavioural resilience: A longitudinal case control study. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13(3), 394-406.
    1. Thorpe, K., Staton, S., Sawyer, E., Pattinson, C., Haden, C. and Smith, S. (2015). Napping, development and health from 0-5 years: A systematic review. Archives of Disease in Childhood 100 (7), 615-622
    1. Staton, S., Smith, S., Pattinson, C. and Thorpe, K. (2015). Mandatory naptimes in childcare and children’s nighttime sleep. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 36,(4), 235-242)
    1. Daniels, L., Mallan, K., Nicholson, J,  Thorpe, K., Nambiar, S., Mauch, C., and Magarey, A. (2015)  Outcomes to age 5 years of an early feeding practices intervention to prevent childhood obesity Pediatrics 136(1), e40-e49.
    1. Thorpe, K., Hansen, J., Danby, S., Zaki, Filzah,  Mohamed, Grant, S,. Houen, S., Davidson, C.,and Given, L.M. (2015) Digital Access to Knowledge in the Preschool Classroom: Reports from Australia.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly 32, 174-182.
    1. Bekkhus, M., Staton, S., Borge, A., and Thorpe, K. (2014) Do Twins Differ From Single-Born Children on Rates of Behavioral Difficulty in Early Childhood? A Study of Sibling Relationship Risk Factors. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 17 (4) 288-295
    1. Pattinson, C., Staton, S., Smith, S., Sinclair, D., and Thorpe, K. (2014). Emotional Climate and Behavioral Management during Sleep Time in Early Childhood Education Settings. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Vol 29, Issue 4, p660-668. 

Staff Details

+61 7 334 67742

Group Leader: Early Development Education and Care

  • B.Ed. (Hons) ( Tas)
  • M.A ( London)
  • Ph.D ( Bristol)
  • Dip Psych (Open)
  • C.Psychol.