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Couple & Family Psychology

Couple and family psychology focuses on understanding and improving couple dynamics, parenting, parent-child relationships, and overall family functioning. It is premised on the assumption that couple and family relationships provide much of the scaffolding for development, resilience, and well-being, as well as psychopathology and illness.

Researchers in the Department of Psychology consider a wide range of topics relating to couples and families, including how relationships change, diversity in family forms, parenting behavior, interventions to promote family functioning, work-family connections, relationships and health, families as a source of resilience to discrimination and economic hardship, and translation to prevention. 


Steven Beach

  • Steven Beach is interested in the interconnected nature of problems in the family, problems with depression, and health-related outcomes. He also has focused on identifying ways to utilize social relationships as a method of enhancing health and well-being by constructing or enhancing resilience-promoting social resources (Brody, Yu, & Beach, 2016). His current work focuses on identifying biological markers, inflammatory processes, and epigenetic mediators of environmentally triggered effects on health and health behavior (Beach, Lei, Brody, Miller, Chen, Mandara, Philibert, 2017). This work contributes to the understanding of modifiable environmental factors that may indirectly drive biological and behavioral risk processes. Of particular interest are biological effects of family and social relationships.

Malissa Clark

  • Malissa Clark researches under the broad topic of employee well-being. Her study topics include workaholism, work-family conflict, women at work, and the effects of mood/emotions on individual and workplace outcomes.
    • Program affiliation: Industrial-Organizational Psychology
    • Laboratory: Work and Family Experience Research Lab

Lillian Eby

Katie Ehrlich

  • Katie Ehrlich studies how children’s social experiences shape their mental and physical health. Her laboratory utilizes a variety of research methods to evaluate social and emotional functioning, including structured behavioral observations, clinical interviews, self-reports, and performance-based tasks. In addition, she incorporates clinical health measures and indices of cellular function and adaptive immunity. Current projects examine (a) the links between social experiences and children’s antibody production following vaccination, (b) intergenerational transmission of health disparities among African American families, and (c) skin deep resilience, depression risk, and cognitive development in adolescence.

Justin Lavner

  • Justin Lavner conducts basic and applied research to understand family dynamics over time and how family relationships can be improved. His basic research examines how relationships change and factors such as individual characteristics (e.g., personality, mental health), relationship dynamics (e.g., communication), and external stressors (e.g., discrimination, financial strain) predict these changes. His applied research focuses on developing interventions to promote couple and family health and well-being, particularly among marginalized populations.
    • Program affiliation: Clinical Psychology

Anne Shaffer

  • Anne Shaffer studies social and emotional processes in families and close relationships. Her research primarily focuses on the emotional context of parenting, including emotion socialization and communication, and emotional maltreatment, as well as emotion regulation as a predictor of parenting behavior. This research extends to clinical applications in treatment and prevention settings.

Richard Slatcher

  • Richard Slatcher focuses on understanding the effects of peoples' close relationships on their health and well-being from a social psychological perspective.

Cindy Suveg

  • Cindy Suveg directs the Development and Psychopathology Lab, with the goal to conduct research that can help foster healthy development in children and families from diverse sociodemographic backgrounds. To that end, our research examines risk and protective processes in typically- and atypically-developing youth and their families using a multi-level, multi-method assessment strategy (behavioral observations, physiological assessment, ecological momentary assessment).

Michelle vanDellen

  • Michelle vanDellen studies self-regulation, the processes by which people choose, pursue, and disengage from goals. Her work is driven by two core assumptions: 1) goal pursuits are inherently interpersonal and 2) cognition and motivation interact to drive self-regulatory processes. She applies her work to a broad range of domains, including health behaviors of smoking (with a particular emphasis on dual-smoker couples), eating, and physical fitness.
    • Program affiliation: Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Affiliated Research Faculty

Gene Brody

  • Gene Brody's research focuses on those family and school processes that are linked with academic and psychosocial competence among children and adolescents.  The contributions of parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, and classroom experiences during elementary and junior high school are of particular interest.

Assaf Oshri

  • Assaf Oshri is interested in youth positive well-being and resilience. In my program of research I focus on understanding the development of youth well-being and risk using multi-level research (e.g., parenting, neuroeconomics, behavioral and neurobiological processes). Specifically, my laboratory team and I aim to conduct research that elucidates the mechanisms that underlie the link between early life stress in childhood (e.g., child maltreatment, poverty, cultural stress) and adolescent behavioral risk (e.g. substance use and sexual risk behaviors) and resilience. I hope that knowledge generated by my research would inform intervention and prevention programs, as well as promote resilience among children and adolescents at risk.

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