Niall Bolger

Niall Bolger
Columbia University | CU · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

135
Publications
100,626
Reads
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30,816
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2005 - present
Columbia University
Position
  • Professor
July 1991 - June 2005
New York University
Position
  • Research Assistant
September 1989 - July 1991
University of Denver
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)

Publications

Publications (135)
Article
Full-text available
Although previous work has consistently identified positive associations between co-rumination and rumination during adolescence, little to no research has examined how this relationship operates on the person-specific level. The current study aimed to extend current developmental theories of co-rumination and rumination by examining within-person...
Article
It is unknown how co-rumination, or perseverating on problems or feelings with another person, unfolds in the daily lives of romantic couples. Using a variance decomposition procedure on data from a 14-day dyadic diary, we assessed how much variance in co-rumination was attributable to temporally stable and varying factors as well as whether co-rum...
Article
Close relationships are proposed to function as dynamic regulatory systems, whereby partners jointly regulate each other's emotions and physiology to maintain an equilibrium level of responding--a process known as coregulation. Little is known, however, regarding when coregulation emerges. We hypothesized that because social support interactions in...
Article
Introduction: COVID-19 has had a profound impact on relationship functioning, though effects have been heterogeneous. Reasons for divergent effects on relationship functioning remain unclear. Theoretical models suggest that it is not just stress exposure that leads to adverse relationships outcomes, but also subjective response to these stressors....
Article
Full-text available
The amygdala and its connections with medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) play central roles in the development of emotional processes. While several studies have suggested that this circuitry exhibits functional changes across the first two decades of life, findings have been mixed - perhaps resulting from differences in analytic choices across studie...
Article
Full-text available
When a person faces a stressor alongside someone else, do they get more or less stressed when the other person agrees that the situation is stressful? While an equally stressed partner could plausibly amplify stress by making the situation seem more real and worthy of distress, we find that social validation during co-experienced stressors reduces...
Article
Full-text available
Cancer and its treatment pose challenges that affect not only patients but also their significant others, including intimate partners. Accumulating evidence suggests that couples’ ability to communicate effectively plays a major role in the psychological adjustment of both individuals and the quality of their relationship. Two key conceptual models...
Preprint
Co-rumination is the process of perseverating on problems, negative thoughts, or feelings with another person. Still unknown is how co-rumination unfolds within the daily lives of romantic couples. Using a variance decomposition procedure on data from a 14-day dyadic daily diary, we assess how much co-rumination varies over time and whether it is a...
Preprint
We test the hypothesis that partners’ tendency to “keep score” in a relationship–as reflected in their exchange orientation–will moderate the effect of daily conflicts on their relationship evaluations. Cohabitating romantic partners (N = 82 couples) participated in a 28-day daily diary study. Partners higher in exchange orientation showed lower in...
Article
Co-rumination is the act of perseverating on problems or negative emotions with another person. Past research has shown that co-rumination has tradeoffs, as it is related to more anxiety and depressive symptoms, yet also heightened feelings of closeness and better relationship quality. However, there has been little repeated measures work, leaving...
Preprint
Full-text available
The amygdala and its connections with medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) play central roles in the development of emotional processes. While several studies have suggested that this circuitry exhibits functional changes across the first two decades of life, findings have been mixed – perhaps resulting from differences in analytic choices across studie...
Article
Prior research shows that daily stressors lead to greater psychological distress. A separate body of research links daily stressors to physical symptoms such as backaches and stomach problems. We integrate these literatures by positing an interconnected causal system, whereby stressors lead to psychological distress which, in turn, leads to physica...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Physical activity is crucial in the treatment of cardiac disease. In addition to sociocognitive theories of behavior change, attitudinal ambivalence and nonconscious factors have also been demonstrated to predict physical activity. We propose an extension to the theory of planned behavior with a dual-systems approach including explicit...
Article
The 1980s and 1990s witnessed a surge of psychological research addressing the role of affect in social judgments. Evaluations of others were shown to be shaped, at least in part, by a person's incidental mood in the moment of social evaluation; while negative moods instigated negative interpersonal evaluations, positive moods instigated positive i...
Preprint
Co-rumination is the act of perseverating on problems or negative emotions with another person, where each individual takes an active role in encouraging and perpetuating negative problem-focused talk. Past research has shown that co-rumination has tradeoffs, as it is related to more anxiety and depressive symptoms, yet also heightened feelings of...
Article
Full-text available
Although decades of research have shown associations between early caregiving adversity, stress physiology and limbic brain volume (e.g., amygdala, hippocampus), the developmental trajectories of these phenotypes are not well characterized. In the current study, we used an accelerated longitudinal design to assess the development of stress physiolo...
Article
We report findings from a meta-analysis on all published and unpublished studies from our labs (total N = 9,656) examining the priming effect of the American flag on political attitudes. Our analyses suggest that, consistent with the studies we originally published in 2011 (T. J. Carter et al., 2011b), American flag primes did create politically co...
Article
Little is understood about how emotion regulation strategies typically used to regulate one's own emotions can be used to help others in distress, a process we refer to as social emotion regulation. We integrated research on social support, the self-regulation of emotion, and appraisal theories to hypothesize that different kinds of support and emo...
Preprint
Close relationships are proposed to function as dynamic regulatory systems, whereby partners regulate each other’s emotions and physiology to maintain an equilibrium level of responding—–a process known as coregulation. Coregulation is proposed to contribute to well-being, yet little is known regarding when coregulation emerges. We hypothesized tha...
Article
Many everyday conversations, whether between close partners or strangers interacting for the first time, are about the world external to their relationship, such as music, food, or current events. Yet, the focus of most research on interpersonal relationships to date has been on the ways in which partners perceive each other and their relationship....
Article
Background Social support and social integration have been linked to lower rates of morbidity and mortality. However, the biological mechanisms responsible for such links need greater attention. Vaccine paradigms provide an integrative window into immune system involvement in the protective influence of social support/integration. Purpose The main...
Article
Full-text available
Receiving social support can entail both costs and benefits for recipients. Thus, theories of effective support have proposed that support should address recipients' needs to be beneficial. This paper proposes the importance of support that addresses recipients' self-regulatory needs. We present a novel construct-regulatory effectiveness of support...
Preprint
Full-text available
Decades of research have shown long-term effects of early caregiving adversity on stress-responsive neurobiology (e.g. stress physiology, amygdala, hippocampus). Although stress physiology and limbic brain regions undergo significant maturational change during childhood and adolescence, and reciprocally influence each other, the effects of early ca...
Article
Full-text available
We test the hypothesis that partners’ tendency to “keep score” in a relationship—as reflected in their exchange orientation—will moderate the effect of daily conflicts on their relationship evaluations. Cohabitating romantic partners (N = 82 couples) participated in a 28-day daily diary study. Partners higher in exchange orientation showed lower in...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: The current study examined whether the transition from university to work, a major developmental milestone in young adulthood, was related to stability and change in self-esteem. Method: Self-esteem was assessed in the last year of their master's program (T1) of 163 27-year old students and 14 months later, when they had graduated and...
Preprint
Full-text available
Receiving social support can entail both costs and benefits for recipients. Thus, theories of effective support have proposed that support should address recipients’ needs in order to be beneficial. This paper proposes the importance of support that addresses recipients’ self-regulatory needs. We present a novel construct—Regulatory Effectiveness o...
Article
Social relationships can be a vital source of help in difficult times. However, attempts to provide social support that is visible—direct and recognized by recipients as help—can sometimes have unintended negative effects. By contrast, invisible support—provided indirectly such that recipients do not interpret the behavior as help—can circumvent po...
Article
Full-text available
All experimenters know that human and animal subjects do not respond uniformly to experimental treatments. Yet theories and findings in experimental psychology either ignore this causal effect heterogeneity or treat it as uninteresting error. This is the case even when data are available to examine effect heterogeneity directly, in within-subjects...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Studies designed to examine associations between communication with a romantic partner and well-being suggest that the open sharing of thoughts and feelings is generally adaptive whereas avoidance is maladaptive, but these investigations have by in large employed cross-sectional designs and utilized global measures of communication. OBJ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Interpersonal communication is critical for a healthy romantic relationship. Emotional disclosure, coupled with perceived partner responsiveness, fosters closeness and adjustment (better mood and relationship satisfaction). On the contrary, holding back from disclosure is associated with increased distress and decreased relationship sa...
Article
Full-text available
Cancer treatment poses significant challenges not just for those diagnosed with the disease but also for their intimate partners. Evidence suggests that couples' communication plays a major role in the adjustment of both individuals and in the quality of their relationship. Most descriptive studies linking communication to adjustment have relied on...
Article
This work examined the effects of socioeconomic status (SES)-based social identity threat on cardiovascular indexes of challenge and threat and self-regulatory strength. Participants (N = 104) took an exam described as either diagnostic of intellectual ability (identity threat) or framed as a problem-solving task (control) while we recorded cardiov...
Article
It is well-known that the neuropeptide oxytocin plays a critical role regulating the formation of adult-adult pairbonds in non-human animals, and recent work suggests oxytocin may similarly play an important role in romantic bonding in humans. Specifically, endogenous oxytocin is predictive of a host of relationship-enhancing behaviors, relationshi...
Article
Full-text available
Social support can sometimes have negative consequences for recipients. One way of circumventing these negative effects is to provide support in an ‘invisible’ or indirect manner, such that recipients do not construe the behavior as a supportive act. However, little is known about how recipients’ motivational states influence when visible (direct)...
Article
Full-text available
People's reports of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are used in many fields of biomedical and social science. When these states have been studied over time, researchers have often observed an unpredicted and puzzling decrease with repeated assessment. When noted, this pattern has been called an "attenuation effect," suggesting that the effe...
Article
Full-text available
Statistical mediation allows researchers to investigate potential causal effects of experimental manipulations through intervening variables. It is a powerful tool for assessing the presence and strength of postulated causal mechanisms. Although mediation is used in certain areas of psychology, it is rarely applied in cognitive psychology and neuro...
Article
Little is known about how couples’ social support facilitates the pursuit of important goals in daily life. Using an interpersonal perspective, we examined the effects of support provision and receipt on same-day physical activity, and studied the role of partners’ joint engagement in activities. One hundred nineteen heterosexual couples reported o...
Article
Full-text available
How do stressful life events impact well-being, and how does their impact differ from person to person? In contrast to work focusing on discrete classes of responding, the current study examines the adequacy of a model where responses to stressors are characterized by a population average and continuous variability around that average. Using decade...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Although many people intend to eat healthily, they often fail to do so. We report the first randomised trial testing whether smartphone-based support groups can enhance healthy eating. Methods: Adults (N = 203) were randomised to the support or control condition (information), and to one of two eating goals (increasing fruit and vege...
Article
Background: Behavior change interventions targeting self-regulation skills have generally shown promising effects. However, the psychological working mechanisms remain poorly understood. Purpose: We examined theory-based mediators of a randomized controlled trial in couples targeting action control (i.e., continuously monitoring and evaluating a...
Poster
Emotion regulation strategy as a predictor of perceived responsiveness during social support interactions
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Autonomous motivation (motivation to engage in a behavior because of personal choice, interest, or value) is often associated with health behaviors. The present study contributes to research on motivation and eating behaviors by examining (1) how autonomous motivation is correlated within parent–adolescent dyads and (2) whether parent-...
Article
Although much is known about people’s attempts to cope with stressors, unmeasured heterogeneity in these stressors has made it difficult to assess the effectiveness of coping attempts. We remedied this problem by focusing on coping effectiveness in people preparing for a major, planned, uniform stressor, the Bar Examination. Within-person analyses...
Preprint
Full-text available
Statistical mediation allows researchers to investigate potential causal effects of experimental manipulations through intervening variables. It is a powerful tool for assessing the presence and strength of postulated causal mechanisms. Although mediation is used in certain areas of psychology, it is rarely applied in cognitive psychology and neuro...
Article
Full-text available
Institutional caregiving is associated with significant deviations from species-expected caregiving, altering the normative sequence of attachment formation and placing children at risk for long-term emotional difficulties. However, little is known about factors that can promote resilience following early institutional caregiving. In the current st...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Despite their good intentions, people often do not eat healthily. This is known as the intention-behavior gap. Although the intention-behavior relationship is theorized as a within-person process, most evidence is based on between-person differences. Purpose: To investigate the within-person intention-behavior association for unhealthy...
Article
Full-text available
While there is evidence that implicit self-esteem transfers to chosen objects (associative self-anchoring), it is still unknown whether this phenomenon extends to explicit self-esteem. Moreover, whether the knowledge that these objects might belong to the self in the future or not affects the evaluation of these objects has received little attentio...
Article
Full-text available
Empathy and vicarious learning of fear are increasingly understood as separate phenomena, but the interaction between the two remains poorly understood. We investigated how social (vicarious) fear learning is affected by empathic appraisals by asking participants to either enhance or decrease their empathic responses to another individual (the demo...
Article
Full-text available
Oxytocin promotes prosocial behavior, especially in those individuals who are low in affiliation (e.g., avoidantly attached individuals), but can exacerbate interpersonal insecurities in those preoccupied with closeness (e.g., anxiously attached individuals). One explanation for these opposing observations is that oxytocin induces a communal, other...
Article
Full-text available
Findings from confederate paradigms predict that mimicry is an adaptive route to social connection for rejection-sensitive individuals (Lakin, Chartrand, & Arkin, 2008). However, dyadic perspectives predict that whether mimicry leads to perceived connection depends on the rejection sensitivity (RS) of both partners in an interaction. We investigate...
Article
Full-text available
Recent human neuroimaging studies have investigated the neural correlates of either noxious stimulus intensity or reported pain. While useful, analyzing brain relationships with stimulus intensity and behavior separately does not address how sensation and pain are linked in the central nervous system. In this paper, we used multi-level mediation an...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Research has suggested a weak association between depression and sexual risk behavior in men who have sex with men (MSM). The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between within-person fluctuations in depression and well-being and episodes of sexual risk-taking among HIV-positive MSM. Methods: One hundred six sexu...
Article
Full-text available
Although social support is known to be beneficial in general, daily support receipt has been associated with negative effects on daily negative mood, unless the support acts are "invisible," i.e. provided by partner but unnoticed by recipient. In this chapter, the timing of these effects is examined using structured daily diary reports of recent la...
Article
Full-text available
People vary greatly in their dispositions to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and strongly react to social rejection (rejection sensitivity [RS]) with implications for social functioning and health. Here, we examined how RS influences learning about social threat. Using a classical fear conditioning task, we established that high compared to low...
Article
Full-text available
The benefits of close relationships for mental and physical health are well documented. One of the mechanisms presumed to underlie these effects is social support, whereby close others provide practical and emotional assistance in times of need. Although there is no doubt that generalized perceptions of support availability are beneficial, research...
Book
www.intensivelongitudinal.com : A complete, practical guide to planning and executing an intensive longitudinal study, this book provides the tools for understanding within-subject social, psychological, and physiological processes in everyday contexts. Intensive longitudinal studies involve many repeated measurements taken on individuals, dyads, o...
Article
Full-text available
To investigate the role of experience in humans' perception of emotion using canine visual signals, we asked adults with various levels of dog experience to interpret the emotions of dogs displayed in videos. The video stimuli had been pre-categorized by an expert panel of dog behavior professionals as showing examples of happy or fearful dog behav...
Data
Supplementary analyses. (DOCX)
Data
Video of “fearful” emotional example (Video#12). (MP4)
Data
Video of “happy” emotional example (Video#9). (MP4)
Data
Additional information regarding video stimuli. (DOCX)