Jeffry A Simpson

Jeffry A Simpson
University of Minnesota Twin Cities | UMN · Department of Psychology

Ph.D.
Our lab studies close relationships and interpersonal processes from different theoretical perspectives.

About

355
Publications
341,497
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
24,786
Citations
Introduction
In collaboration with several research teams, my research investigates close relationships and interpersonal processes from different theoretical perspectives. Our current work focuses on four areas: person by situation models, adult attachment processes, social influence in romantic relationships, and the impact of social development on relationship, parenting, and health outcomes.
Additional affiliations
June 2018 - June 2024
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Position
  • Chair
August 1986 - July 2004
Texas A&M University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant-Full)
Education
September 1981 - July 1986
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Field of study
  • Psychology
August 1977 - May 1981
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Field of study
  • Political Science/Psychology

Publications

Publications (355)
Article
Childhood adversity is associated with higher adult weight, but few investigations prospectively test mechanisms accounting for this association. Using two socioeconomically high-risk prospective longitudinal investigations, the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (MLSRA; N = 267; 45.3% female) and the Fragile Families and Child Wel...
Article
Background Prior research has shown that social control strategies can have either positive or negative effects on individuals’ health behaviors. However, no research has examined the degree to which social control attempts enacted by romantic partners are associated with individuals’ relational behaviors or whether perceptions of a partner’s motiv...
Article
This paper reports on the first meta-analysis of studies on the association between government-imposed social restrictions and mental health outcomes published during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-three studies (N=131,844) were included. Social restrictions were significantly associated with increased mental health symptoms over...
Article
To lose one’s sense of what it means to be human reflects a profound form of loss. Recent research in the study of dehumanization highlights that the loss of humanness can be experienced at the hands of close others. Moreover, acts of dehumanization can take many forms in close relationships. In this paper, we review the emerging literature on the...
Article
Full-text available
Attachment theory suggests that both the quality and consistency of early sensitive care should shape an individual's attachment working models and relationship outcomes across the lifespan. To date, most research has focused on the quality of early sensitive caregiving, finding that receiving higher quality care predicts more secure working models...
Article
Close relationships are crucial to health and well-being. However, anxious expectations of rejection (attachment anxiety) and avoidant beliefs that romantic partners cannot be trusted (attachment avoidance) undermine long-term relationship functioning and well-being. In this Review, we outline how romantic attachment anxiety and avoidance create ha...
Article
Since its inception more than 50 years ago, attachment theory has become one of the most influential viewpoints in the behavioral sciences. What have we learned during this period about its fundamental questions? In this paper, we summarize the conclusions of an inquiry into this question involving more than 75 researchers. Each responded to one of...
Article
Background Parents can influence their children to live healthier lifestyles by modeling healthy behaviors and/or trying to persuade their children to engage in healthier activities. Adolescents and their parents tend to have similar eating and exercise patterns, but less is known about the simultaneous influence of parent’s health behavior and soc...
Chapter
It is difficult to appreciate attachment theory fully without understanding its evolutionary foundations and purposes, many of which are rooted in infancy. In this chapter, we showcase attachment-relevant models of social development guided by the overarching evolutionary framework of life history theory (LHT). We begin by discussing the features o...
Article
Relationship partners affect one another’s health outcomes through their health behaviors, yet how this occurs is not well understood. To fill this gap, we present the Dyadic Health Influence Model (DHIM). The DHIM identifies three routes through which a person (the agent) can impact the health beliefs and behavior of their partner (the target). An...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Parents can influence their children to live healthier lifestyles by modeling healthy behaviors and/or trying to persuade their children to engage in healthier activities. Adolescents and their parents tend to have similar eating and exercise patterns, but less is known about the simultaneous influence of parent’s health behavior and so...
Chapter
Full-text available
Trust is essential for establishing and maintaining cooperative behaviors between individuals and institutions in a wide variety of social, economic, and political contexts. This book explores trust through the lens of neurobiology, focusing on empirical, methodological, and theoretical aspects. Written by a distinguished group of researchers from...
Article
Full-text available
Being able to control oneself in emotionally upsetting situations is essential for good relationship functioning. According to life history theory, childhood exposure to harshness and unpredictability should forecast diminished emotional control and lower relationship quality. We examined this in three studies. In Studies 1 and 2, greater childhood...
Article
The transition to parenthood can be a challenging time for new parent couples, as a baby comes with changes and stress that can negatively influence new parents’ relational functioning in the form of reduced relationship satisfaction and disrupted partner social support. Yet, the transition to parenthood is also often experienced as a joyous time....
Preprint
Full-text available
Relationship partners affect one another’s health outcomes through their health behaviors, yet how this occurs is not well understood. To fill this gap, we present the Dyadic Health Influence Model (DHIM). The DHIM identifies three routes through which a person (the agent) can impact the health beliefs and behavior of their partner (the target). An...
Article
This longitudinal study examined associations between perceptions of partner responsiveness and relationship satisfaction of each partner (new parents) across the first 2 years of a chronically stressful life event-the transition to parenthood. Responsiveness indexes the degree to which partners respond to each other with understanding, validation,...
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the significant and varied losses that couples can experience during times of global and regional disasters and crises. What factors determine how couples navigate their close relationships during times of loss? In this paper, we elaborate and extend on one of the most influential frameworks in relationship sci...
Article
Adult friendships are important relationships, yet little work has examined the processes through which they end and the antecedents and consequences of endings. Building on work that has highlighted the reasons friendships end [1∗], we propose an adult friendship dissolution process model that features how situational, personal, and interpersonal...
Article
Using data from the Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating (FLASHE) study, we examined how adolescents’ age as well as parents’ and their adolescent’s gender are associated with the influence strategies parents use to promote healthy behaviors. Parents reported their use of intentional modeling and social control for four health behaviors:...
Article
Full-text available
The economic, social, and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to increase the occurrence of intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization. IPV victimization may, in turn, contribute to physical and mental health, substance use, and social distancing behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary objective of the current study...
Chapter
This chapter explains gender differences in intimate violence, from pushing a partner to homicide. It then discusses many factors explaining the massive variability of violence in intimate relationships, both within and across cultures, in the context of different theoretical approaches. The three dominant theories that deal with relationship viole...
Chapter
This chapter reviews evidence for the evolutionary thesis that romantic love is a commitment device to keep parents together long enough to help infants survive to reproductive age. The power and sweetness of romantic love, and its centrality in human affairs, lend it an air of mystery that people suspect is behind the common view that it is hard t...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the way in which humans rear children (often in the context of pair‐bonding and broader family networks), which was probably a major factor in the evolution of the special qualities of Homo sapiens. It explains that intimate relationships can really be understood only within the context of human nature itself. Because intimat...
Chapter
This chapter examines the central role of the family – including moms, dads, and grandparents – on the selection of romantic partners and functioning of romantic relationships. There is a lot of similarity between love in close platonic friendships with family members or friends and romantic relationships. Both kinds of love are rooted in trust, ca...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on how romantic relationships can impact physical health at different stages of life (and vice‐versa), and touches on mental health outcomes at times. It begins by discussing the ways in which certain interpersonal experiences early in life (such as parental divorce) increase the likelihood of developing health problems later i...
Chapter
This chapter first introduces attachment theory, which is an evolutionary theory of human social behavior “from the cradle to the grave”. It discusses how and why attachment theory originated and some of its basic principles. Attachment theory applies to everybody throughout life from birth to death. The theory has two main components: a normative...
Chapter
This chapter examines the research that has investigated the kind of mind‐reading exemplified in the example from Annie Hall, along with the personality and many other judgments people make of their partners at every stage of the relationship. The “love is blind” thesis, taken to extremes, undercuts a key assumption in evolutionary psychology. More...
Article
Familial caregiving research is yet to examine the factors that underpin the association between attachment insecurity and carer burden. Furthermore, previous research consists largely of data collected at a single point in time. This paper addresses these gaps by reporting on a study involving 57 parent-child dyads to determine whether adult child...
Article
Data from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (MLSRA) were utilized to provide the first investigation into the early childhood antecedents of dehumanization (i.e., treating another as less than human) in adult romantic relationships. Drawing on a sample of 109 MLSRA participants, multiple assessments of maternal care and empath...
Article
Attachment theory posits that early experiences with caregivers are made portable across development in the form of mental representations of attachment experiences. These representations, the secure base script included, are thought to be stable across time. Here, we present data from two studies. Study 1 (N = 141) examined the degree of empirical...
Article
Attachment orientations in adulthood can change over time, but the specific circumstances that directly affect change are not well understood. Bowlby proposed that those circumstances involve the assimilation of information that is incongruent with an individual's existing attachment orientation and underlying working models. In this study, 137 cou...
Article
Full-text available
Negative affect caused by stressful life events can carry over to parental relationships and induce parental distress. Such spillover effects, however, may not operate uniformly in men and women, and may not be the same for different types of stressful life events. Employing life history theory, we hypothesized that male parents should experience m...
Article
Full-text available
Attachment insecurity is consequential for both personal and relationship wellbeing. Some research has documented that partner buffering can downregulate insecure individuals' immediate feelings of distress, allowing them to feel more secure at least temporarily. The benefits of partner buffering, however, may be limited by several contextual facto...
Article
Attachment orientations in adulthood can change over time, but the specific circumstances that directly affect change are not well understood. Bowlby proposed that those circumstances involve the assimilation of information that is incongruent with an individual’s existing attachment orientation and underlying working models. In this study, 137 cou...
Article
Given the powerful implications of relationship quality for health and well-being, a central mission of relationship science is explaining why some romantic relationships thrive more than others. This large-scale project used machine learning (i.e., Random Forests) to 1) quantify the extent to which relationship quality is predictable and 2) identi...
Article
Attachment anxiety can decline in relationships but little is known about how or why. A new framework—the Attachment Security Enhancement Model (ASEM)—suggests that what allays current (momentary) insecurity may not necessarily reduce attachment anxiety across time. This article differentiates momentary versus extended attachment processes by exami...
Chapter
Interdependence, Interaction, and Close Relationships - edited by Laura V. Machia June 2020
Article
Waters, Ruiz, and Roisman (2017) recently published evidence based on the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (MLSRA) that sensitive caregiving during childhood is associated with higher levels of secure base script knowledge during the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI sbs ). At present, however, little is known about the role of var...
Article
Language style matching (LSM) refers to similarity in function word use between two people during a conversation. Previous research has shown that LSM predicts romantic relationship stability, but it remains unknown why LSM is associated with stability. Across five studies from five different labs, we aimed to identify links between LSM and two rel...
Article
Cambridge Core - Social Psychology - Interdependence, Interaction, and Close Relationships - edited by Laura V. Machia
Article
Background and Objectives This study takes an interpersonal approach to the study of carer burden in families where adult children care for older parents. The study aims to determine whether different pairings of attachment insecurity in older parent-adult child dyads are predictive of carer burden. Research Design and Methods Seventy dyads whereb...
Article
Full-text available
This study explored the moderating effect of sociosexual orientation on the association between coparenting alliance/coparenting conflict and relationship satisfaction in mothers in a romantic relationship. Sociosexuality is defined as a personality trait that reflects the individual difference in willingness to engage in uncommitted sexual relatio...
Article
Full-text available
Stressful experiences affect biological stress systems, such as the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. Life stress can potentially alter regulation of the HPA axis and has been associated with poorer physical and mental health. Little, however, is known about the relative influence of stressors that are encountered at different developmenta...
Article
In the 21st century, efforts to reduce the prevalence of disease and to improve life expectancy are inextricably linked to modifying patterns of human behavior (Adams, Grandpre, Katz, & Shenson, 2019; Bauer, Briss, Goodman, & Bowan, 2014). To achieve this goal, health professionals need a toolbox composed of intervention strategies that effectively...
Article
Infant attachment is theorized to lay the foundation of emotion regulation across the life span. However, testing this proposition requires prospective designs examining whether attachment assessed in infancy predicts emotion regulation strategies observed in adult relationships. Using unique data from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and A...
Article
This research examined links between attachment orientations and evaluations of potential and existing relationship partners with respect to ideal standards. In Study 1, attachment anxiety and avoidance predicted the tradeoffs individuals made when choosing between potential mates. In Studies 2 and 3, attachment anxiety and avoidance were associate...
Article
Full-text available
Our research deals with the question how people look back at their ex-partners—those with whom they were once romantically involved? Such views are important because they may shape our views of current relationships or new (potential) partners. Across three studies (total N = 876), we find that men hold more positive attitudes towards their female...
Article
This chapter examines the predictors of relationship dissolution and divorce primarily within Western cultures, for the simple reason that most of the relevant research has been carried out in such countries. On the other side of the coin, it also discusses what pulls couples together and helps maintain long‐term relationships. The chapter then tur...
Article
This chapter explores the nature of interpersonal attraction and mate selection. The topics concern what men and women around the world look for in a mate and the thorny question of why humans adopt the standards they do. The chapter then discusses both the nature of within‐gender differences and across‐gender differences in mating strategies, and...
Article
This chapter reveals some key gender differences in sexuality, which are remarkably consistent with what is known about mate selection and mating strategies and the sex hormones. Men have stronger sex drives than women and are prone to keeping the sexual component (of love) separated from commitment and intimacy to a greater extent than are women....
Article
This chapter reviews and integrates five themes that tie together different parts of the relationship elephant. It deals with two interconnected general themes initially that embody two key threads running through the book – the power of culture and evolution and their linkages, and the way that pair‐bonding and romantic love help explain the evolu...
Article
This chapter explores the nature of the intimate relationship mind, the origins and causes of relationship cognition, and the role of emotions and feelings. It shows that the human (intimate) relationship mind is a remarkable instrument, honed by evolution and culture to meet pre‐ordained goals. The intimate relationship mind can be usefully split...
Article
One stream of research, supporting a materialist approach, is concerned with what is termed embodied cognition. The central axiom of this research domain posits that bodily and perceptual processes and cognition work to influence one another within an integrated biological system. If a materialist approach is worth its salt, then scientific work on...
Article
George and Mary's styles of communication seem like oil and water when put together. Their different approaches to conflict reflect two competing theoretical explanations postulated by scientists as the best way of communicating when experiencing relationship problems: the honest communication model versus the good management model. This chapter ev...
Article
Increasing evidence suggests that both attachment representations and autobiographical memories are moderately stable over time. Evidence examining the stability of attachment-related memories is scarce, although these memories of early caregiving are thought to underpin attachment representations. Connecting research on stability of autobiographic...
Article
According to life history theory, exposure to harshness and/or unpredictability early in life should promote a fast life history strategy. Such a strategy entails, among other traits, elevated aggression and impaired relationship functioning. While detrimental under safe and stable conditions, these characteristics become more evolutionary adaptive...
Article
The stress that arises during the transition to parenthood often places significant strain on marriages that can result in marital problems such as aggression victimization. In this research, we use an I³ framework to identify specific partner variables that are likely to promote physical aggression victimization across the transition to parenthood...
Article
Full-text available
Major life stress often produces a flat diurnal cortisol slope, an indicator of potential long-term health problems. Exposure to stress early in childhood or the accumulation of stress across the life span may be responsible for this pattern. However, the relative impact of life stress at different life stages on diurnal cortisol is unknown. Using...
Article
In this article, I review three longitudinal studies that have investigated how exposure to more versus less predictable environments shunt individuals down different developmental pathways. After describing key principles of life history theory and how stress can shape social development over time, I discuss an interrelated set of findings from th...
Chapter
Power in Close Relationships - edited by Christopher R. Agnew February 2019
Article
The transition to parenthood is a stressful life event that often leads to decreases in relationship satisfaction over time. Guided by the Stress Buffering Model, we examined how pregnancy intention and humor use are associated with relationship satisfaction across the transition to parenthood using a multi-wave longitudinal design. First-time pare...
Article
Full-text available
Research has shown that greater stress responses predict worse sleep and that the quality of one's current romantic relationship predicts one's sleep. Despite these established links, research has not examined connections between ongoing patterns of interpersonal experiences and competencies (relationship effectiveness) and stress exposure on sleep...
Article
Objective: Interpersonal relationships are important predictors of health outcomes and interpersonal influences on behaviours may be key mechanisms underlying such effects. Most health behaviour theories focus on intrapersonal factors and may not adequately account for interpersonal influences. We evaluate a dyadic extension of the Theory of Planne...
Article
Full-text available
This article introduces a metatheoretical framework—the Relationship Trajectories Framework—that conceptualizes how human mating relationships develop across their complete time span, from the moment two people meet until the relationship ends. The framework depicts relationships as arc-shaped evaluative trajectories that vary on five dimensions: s...