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Lisa Neff

Department of Human Development and Family Sciences


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

2023-present Professor, Departmeent of Human Development and Family Sciences, UT Austin

2014-2023    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

My research focuses on how couples’ relationships develop and change over time. As examining the dynamics of change in couples’ relationships requires longitudinal, labor intensive research that utilizes multiple methods, my research typically involves collecting a mix of self-report, daily survey, observational, and physiological data from couples at multiple points over the course of several years. I have published numerous articles identifying risk factors for relationship decline, with a special emphasis on how stressful life circumstances may alter relationship functioning. More recently, I have begun examining whether the manner in which couples navigate their relationship difficulties may change as they grow older. 

I will be accepting a graduate student for the 2024/2025 academic year. 

Select Publications

Joiner, R. J., Bradbury, T. N., Lavner, J. A., Meltzer, A. L. McNulty, J. K., Neff, L. A., Karney, B. R. (2023). Are changes in marital satisfaction sustained and steady, or sporadic and dramatic? American Psychologist. Advanced Online Publication

Blickman, R. S., Neff, L. A., & Beer, J. S. (2023). Is older indeed wiser? Identifying conflict communication patterns in older and younger dating couples. Communication Methods and Measures. Advanced Online Publication

Neff, L.A. & Buck, A. A. (2023).  When rose-colored glasses turn cloudy: The influence of stressful life circumstances on perceptions of partner behavior in newlywed marriage. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 14(6), 675–685.

Randall, A. K., Donato, S., Neff, L. A., Totenhagen, C. J., Bodenmann, G., & Falconier, M. (2023). A scoping review on couples’ stress and coping literature: Recognizing the need for inclusivity.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 40(3), 812–855.

Neff, L. A., Gleason, M. E. J., Crockett, E. E., & Ciftci, O. (2022). Blame the pandemic: Buffering the association between stress and relationship quality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 13(2), 522-532.

Ghodse-Elahi, Y., Neff, L. A., & Shrout, P. E. (2021). Modeling dyadic trajectories: Longitudinal changes in sexual satisfaction for newlywed couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50(8), 3651–3662. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02075-9

McNulty, J. K., Meltzer, A. L., Neff, L. A., & Karney, B. R. (2021). How both partners' individual differences, behavior, and stress predict change in marital satisfaction: Extending the VSA model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118 (27).  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2101402118

Neff, L. A., Nguyen, T. T. T., & Williamson, H. C. (2021). Too stressed to help? The effects of stress on noticing partner needs and enacting support. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 47(11), 1565-1579.

Ng, Y. T., Huo, M., Gleason, M. E., Neff, L. A., Charles, S. T. & Fingerman, K. L. (2021). Friendships in old age: Daily encounters and emotional well-being. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 76, 551-562.

Farnish, K., & Neff, L. A. (2020). Shake it off: The role of optimistic expectations for conflict recovery. Personal Relationships, 27, 820-845.

Nguyen, T. 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. (2020). The importance of investing in your relationship: Emotional capital and responses to partner transgressions. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 37, 581-601.

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.

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