Benjamin Karney


Karney Headshot

Social Area Chair
Ph.D.: University of California, Los Angeles
Area Chair: Social Psychology
Primary Area: Social Psychology
Address: 5546 Pritzker Hall
Phone: (310) 206-3925

Research and Teaching Interests:

For the past 25 years, Dr. Karney has been studying change and stability in intimate relationships, especially in the early years of marriage.  His research has focused on the ways that stress external to a couple can facilitate or constrain cognitive and behavioral processes of relationship maintenance. His research relies upon longitudinal data, repeated measures, multi-level modeling, and observational coding of couple interactions. To address these issues, his ongoing longitudinal research is examining Latinx, Black, and White newlywed couples from low-income neighborhoods.


Benjamin Karney is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation.  He is an expert on interpersonal relationships, especially marriage, and has done extensive research on how relationship processes and interactions are constrained or enhanced by the contexts in which they take place.  This has included research on marriages in the military, funded by the Department of Defense, and currently focuses on marriages in lower-income populations, funded by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development.  Before returning to Los Angeles, he served as a tenured member of the faculty of the psychology department at the University of Florida, where his research examined change and stability in early marriage, focusing on the processes through which initially satisfying marriages either remain satisfying or deteriorate over time.  He has been the director and principle investigator of the Florida Project on Newlywed Marriage and Adult Development (FPNMAD), a series of longitudinal studies of the first years of marriage, and in 2003, he conducted the baseline survey of marriage and families for the state of Florida as part of their initiative to strengthen families.  He also served as an expert consultant for the Strengthening Healthy Marriage project, an 8-year national experimental study of marital interventions for low-income populations, sponsored by the Administration on Children and Families.  He has twice been the recipient of the National Council on Family Relation’s Reuben Hill Research and Theory Award for outstanding contributions to family science.

Curriculum Vitae

Representative Publications:

Selected Journal Articles

Karney, B. R. & Bradbury, T. N.  (1995).  The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability:  A review of theory, method, and research.  Psychological Bulletin118,  3-34.

Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N.  (1997).  Neuroticism, marital interaction, and the trajectory of marital satisfaction.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology72, 1075-1092.

Karney, B. R. & Frye, N. E.  (2002).  “But we’ve been getting better lately”:  Comparing prospective and retrospective views of relationship development.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 222-238.

Neff, L. A. & Karney, B. R. (2004).  How does context affect intimate relationships?  Linking external stress and cognitive processes within marriage.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin30, 134-148.

Neff, L. A. & Karney, B. R. (2005).  To know you is to love you: The importance of global adoration and specific understanding for close relationships.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology88, 480-497.

Karney, B. R. & Bradbury, T. N.  (2005).  Contextual influences on marriage:  Implications for policy and intervention.  Current Directions in Psychological Science14, 171-174.

Neff, L. A. & Karney, B. R.  (2007).  Stress crossover in newlywed marriage:  A longitudinal and dyadic perspective.  Journal of Marriage and Family69, 594-607.

Neff, L. A. & Karney, B. R. (2009).  Stress and reactivity to daily relationship experiences: How stress hinders adaptive processes in marriage.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology97, 435-450.

Trail, T. E., Goff, P. A., Bradbury, T. N., & Karney, B. R. (2011). The Costs of Racism for Marriage: How Racial Discrimination Hurts, and Ethnic Identity Protects, Newlywed Marriages Among Latinos. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(4), 454-465.

Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13, 3-66.

Trail, T. E., & Karney, B. R. (2012).  What’s (Not) Wrong With Low-Income Couples?  Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 413-427.

Karney, B. R., Loughran, D., & Pollard, M. S.  (2012). Comparing Marital Status and Divorce Status in Civilian and Military Populations.  Journal of Family Issues, 33, 1572-1594. doi: 10.1177/0192513X12439690.

Kennedy, D. P., Jackson, G. L., Green, H. D., Bradbury, T. N., & Karney, B. R. (2015). The Analysis of Duocentric Social Networks:  A Primer. Journal of Marriage and Family, 77, 295-311. DOI: 10.1111/jomf.12151.

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

Karney, B. R., Bradbury, T. N., & Lavner, J. A. (2018). Supporting Healthy Relationships in Low-Income Couples: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 5(1), 33-39. doi:10.1177/2372732217747890

Ross, J. M., Karney, B. R., Nguyen, T. P., & Bradbury, T. N. (2019). Communication that is maladaptive for middle-class couples is adaptive for socioeconomically disadvantaged couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116(4), 582-597. doi:10.1037/pspi0000158

Karney, B. R. and T. N. Bradbury (2020). Research on Marital Satisfaction and Stability in the 2010s: Challenging Conventional Wisdom. Journal of Marriage and Family 82(1): 100-116.

Karney, B. R. (2021). Socioeconomic status and intimate relationships. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 391-414.

McNulty, J. K., Meltzer, A. L., Neff, L. A., & Karney, B. R. (2021). How both partners’ individual differences, stress, and behavior predict change in relationship satisfaction: Extending the VSA model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(27), e2101402118.

Selected Books and Monographs

Karney, B. R. & Crown, J. S. (2007).  Families under stress:  An assessment of data, theory, and research on marriage and divorce in the military.  (MG-599-OSD).  Santa Monica, CA:  RAND Corporation.

Bradbury, T. N. & Karney, B. R. (2019).  Intimate Relationships (3rd Edition).  New York:  W. W. Norton.

Selected Book Chapters

Karney, B. R., McNulty, J. K., & Frye, N. E.  (2001).  A social-cognitive perspective on the maintenance and deterioration of relationship satisfaction.  In Harvey, J. H. & Wenzel, A. E. (Eds.), Close, romantic relationships:  Maintenance and enhancement (pp. 195-214).  Mahwah, NJ:  Erlbaum.

Karney, B.R., Story, L.B., & Bradbury, T.N. (2005). Marriages in context: Interactions between chronic and acute stress among newlyweds. In T.A. Revenson, K. Kayser, & G. Bodenmann (Eds.),Emerging perspectives on couples’ coping with stress (pp. 13-32).Washington DC: American Psychological Association Press.

Karney, B. R. (2014).  How Marriages Change.  In Simpson, J. A. & Dovidio, J. (Eds.), APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 2. Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes (pp. 557-579).  Washington, D. C.: APA Books.

Link to the UCLA Marriage and Close Relationships Lab