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Lisa Neff

Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences

Amy Johnson McLaughlin Centennial Professorship in Home Economics

Dr. Neff is planning to accept a new graduate student for Fall 2021


Phone: 512-475-6886

Office Location
SEA 2.438

Postal Address
AUSTIN, TX 78712


B.A., University of Dayton, Ohio (1996)
M.A., Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (1998)
Ph.D., University of Florida (2002)

Professional Experience

2014-present Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, UT Austin

2008-2014    Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, UT Austin

2004-2008    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Toledo

2002-2004    Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Florida

Research Interests

Lisa Neff’s current research focuses on marital relationships. Despite the strong feelings of love and commitment that characterize newlywed couples, many marriages end in disappointment. To understand this shift, her research aims: (1) to identify the relationship processes associated with positive marital outcomes (e.g., the influence of optimistic biases on marital well-being; the role of social support exchanges between partners) and (2) to understand how and when stressors external to the relationship (e.g., work stress, financial difficulties) hinder couples’ efforts to engage in relationship-promoting behaviors. Most recently, Dr. Neff has begun examining potential age-related differences in relationship processes. To address these issues, Dr. Neff’s research utilizes daily diary, observational, and longitudinal methodologies.

Select Publications

Farnish, K., & Neff, L. A. (in press). Shake it off: The role of optimistic expectations for conflict recovery. Personal Relationships

Ng. Y. T., Huo, M., Gleason, M.E., Neff, L. A., Charles, S. T., & Fingerman, K. L. (2020). Friendships in old age: Daily encounters and emtotional well-being. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. Advance online publication.

Walsh, C. M. & Neff, L. A. (2020). The importance of investing in your relationship: Emotional capital and responses to partner transgressions. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 37, 581-601.

Nguyen, T. T., Neff, L. A., Williamson, H. C. (2020). The role of stress mindset in support provision. Personal Relationships, 27, 138-155.

Du, H., Bradbury, T.N., Lavner, J. A., Meltzer, A. L., McNulty, J. K., Neff, L. A., & Karney, B. R. (2020). A comparison of Bayesian synthesis approaches for comparing two group means. Research Synthesis Methods, 11, 36-65.

Walsh, C. M. & Neff, L. A. (2018). We’re better when we blend: The benefits of couples’ identity fusion. Self and Identity, 17, 587-603.

Hou, Y., Neff, L.A., & Kim S.Y. (2018). Language acculturation, acculturation-related stress, and marital quality in Chinese American couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 80, 555-568.

Keneski, E., Neff, L. A., & Loving, T.J. (2018). The importance of a few good friends: Perceived network support moderates the association between daily marital conflict and diurnal cortisol. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9, 962-971.

Walsh, C. M., Neff, L.A., & Gleason, M. E. J. (2017). The role of emotional capital during the early years of marriage. Why everyday moments matter. Journal of Family Psychology, 31, 513-519.

Neff, L. A., & Karney, B. R. (2017). Acknowleding the elephant in the room: How stressful environmental contexts shape relationship dynamics. Current Opinions in Psychology, 13, 107-110.

Neff, L. A., & Morgan, T. A., (2014). The rising expectations of marriage: What we do and do not know. Psychological Inquiry, 25, 95-100.

Eastwick, P. W., Neff, L. A., Finkel. E. J., Luchies, L. B., & Hunt, L. L. (2014). Is a meta-analysis a foundation or just another brick?: A comment on Meltzer, McNulty, Jackson, & Karney (2014). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106, 429-434. 

Neff, L. A., & Geers, A. L. (2013). Optimistic expectations in early marriage: A resource or vulnerability for adaptive relationship functioning? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 38-60.

Crockett, E., & Neff, L. A. (2013). When receiving help hurts: Gender differences in cortisol responses to spousal support.  Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(2),  190-197.

Karney, B R., & Neff, L. A. (2013). Couples and stress: How demands outside a relationship affect intimacy within the relationship. In J. A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Close Relationships (pp. 664-684). Oxford University Press.

Buck, A. A. & Neff, L. A. (2012). Stress spillover in early marriage: The role of self-regulatory depletion. Journal of Family Psychology, 26(5), 698-708.

Eastwick, P. W., & Neff, L. A. (2012). Do ideal partner preferences predict divorce? A tale of two metrics. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 667-674.

Neff, L .A., & Broady, E. (2011). Stress resilience in early marriage: Can practice make perfect? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(5), 1050-1067.


Reccent Grants

2015-2020   PI, (Co-PI Jennifer Beer) National Science Foundation (BCS-1451492), Understanding Age-related    Changes in Relationship Maintenance Strategies. Award amount: $511,623

2013-2015  Co-PI (PI, Paul Eastwick), National Science Foundation (BCS-1147828), A Phylogenetic Evolutionary Psychological Approach to Human Mating. Award amount: $276,194.

2009-2013   PI, National Science Foundation (BCS-0921896). Marriage in Context: Linking External Stress to Relationship Maintenance Processes in Newlyweds. Award amount: $599,680.

Awards & Honors

  • 2012 Caryl E. Rusbult Early Career Award from the Relationship Researchers Interest Group of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology
  • 2011 College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award, University of Texas
  • 2004 International Association for Relationship Research Dissertation Award

Undergraduate Courses:

HDF 304H: Introduction to Family Relationships Honors Section

HDF 337: Personal Relationships

Graduate Courses:

HDF 395: Intimate Relationships: Formation and Development

HDF 394: The Self in Relationships