The predominant part of Dr. Pluess’ research deals with questions related to developmental plasticity, the understanding that experiences while growing up shape the course of psychological development. More specifically, Dr. Pluess investigates individual differences in the capacity for such developmental plasticity as a function of different individual characteristics, a notion brought forward in the differential susceptibility framework (Belsky, 1997; Belsky & Pluess, 2009). According to differential susceptibility reasoning individuals differ fundamentally in the degree they are affected by environmental influences regarding their psychological development: Some people are generally more and some less influenced not only by negative but also by positive influences.  


Developmental Plasticity
Dr. Pluess’ research regarding the effects of environmental influences and experiences and the moderation thereof includes the study of environmental influences as early as the fetal period, but also quality of care in early childhood and experiences in adulthood. A special focus of Dr. Pluess’ research is the prenatal programming of postnatal plasticity, based on findings that experiences during pregnancy influence the degree of developmental plasticity after birth.

  Gene-Environment Interaction
Besides behavioural and physiological characteristics, genes have been shown to moderate effects of the environment on psychological development. Dr. Pluess’ work includes the investigation of so-called gene-environment interaction studies pertaining to a diverse range of environmental influences in large-scale longitudinal prospective studies. 
  Positive Development
Dr. Pluess is also interested in the concept of positive development in contrast to developmental psychopathology. This includes empirical evaluation of intervention programmes aimed at fostering positive development and the investigation of genetic and behavioural moderation of such psychological intervention effects.