Paula R Pietromonaco

Paula R Pietromonaco
University of Massachusetts Amherst | UMass Amherst · Department of Psychology

PhD University of Michigan

About

66
Publications
53,613
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Introduction
Paula R Pietromonaco is Professor Emerita, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Additional affiliations
September 1986 - February 2021
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position
  • Professor Emeritus

Publications

Publications (66)
Article
This research investigated how spouses' attachment styles jointly contributed to their stress responses. Newlywed couples discussed relationship conflicts. Salivary cortisol indexed physiological stress; observer-rated behaviors indexed behavioral stress; self-reported distress indexed psychological stress. Multilevel modeling tested predictions th...
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People who are more securely attached to close partners show health benefits, but the mechanisms underlying this link are not well specified. We focus on physiological pathways that are potential mediators of the connection between attachment in childhood and adulthood and health and disease outcomes. Growing evidence indicates that attachment inse...
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Drawing on theories of bidirectional influence between relationship partners (Butler, 2011; Diamond & Aspinwall, 2003), the authors applied dyadic analytic methods to test convergence in cortisol patterns over time in newlywed couples. Previous studies of bidirectional influence in couples' cortisol levels (Liu, Rovine, Klein, & Almeida, 2013; Papp...
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Close relationships play a vital role in human health, but much remains to be learned about specific mechanisms of action and potential avenues for intervention. This article provides an evaluation of research on close relationships processes relevant to health, drawing on themes from major relationship science theories to present a broad conceptua...
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Lower power during marital interactions predicts greater aggression by men, but no research has identified women's response to lower power. We tested whether women who experienced lower situational power during conflict exhibited greater submission, especially if they held traditional gender role beliefs and thus accepted structural gender differen...
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Have the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic risked declines in parents’ health and family functioning, or have most parents been resilient and shown no changes in health and family functioning? Assessing average risk versus resilience requires examining how families have fared across the pandemic, beyond the initial months examined in prior investiga...
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Communication plays an integral role in shaping romantic relationship quality. Yet, little is known about whether people from different cultural backgrounds communicate differently in their romantic relationships. Here, we addressed this issue by examining (a) whether the extent to which individuals communicate directly or indirectly in their roman...
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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
Pfund and Hill (2022) suggest that individual resilience factors such as agreeableness and conscientiousness are likely to promote better relationship functioning as couples navigate the pandemic. Although we agree that more fully incorporating individual resilience factors would strengthen our adapted vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) model, n...
Preprint
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Are parents and families struggling with the ongoing demands of the pandemic, or are parents resilient and adjusted to the ‘new normal’? Assessing average risk versus resilience requires examining how parents and families have fared across the pandemic, beyond the initial months examined in prior investigations. The current research examines averag...
Article
The broad isolation, separation and loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic raises risks for couples’ relationship quality and stability. Guided by the vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) model, we suggest that how pandemic-related loss, isolation, and separation impacts couples’ relationships will vary depending on the amount and severity of p...
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Guided by theory emphasizing that partner responsiveness underlies well-functioning romantic relationships, we examined whether partners’ responsive behavior buffered the degree to which a personal vulnerability (depressive symptoms) and external stress predicted declines in relationship adjustment. Using an existing data set, we tested whether ind...
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The COVID-19 pandemic presents acute, ongoing relationship challenges. The current research tested how (1) preexisting vulnerabilities assessed prior to the pandemic (attachment insecurity) and (2) stress as couples endured a mandated quarantine predicted residual changes in relationship functioning. Controlling for prequarantine problems, relation...
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We review the many ways in which romantic relationship processes are connected to physical health. First, we discuss how being in a romantic relationship (especially when that relationship is high in quality) predicts better health. Second, we examine the health correlates of attachment style, which captures the extent to which people perceive thei...
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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...
Preprint
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic presents acute, ongoing relationship challenges. The current research tested how (1) pre-existing vulnerabilities assessed prior to the pandemic (attachment insecurity) and (2) stress as couples endured a mandated quarantine predicted residual changes in relationship functioning. Controlling for pre-quarantine problems, relati...
Article
The coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has profoundly altered people's daily lives and created multiple societal challenges. One important challenge of this unique stressor is maintaining well-functioning intimate relationships, which are inextricably tied to emotional and physical health. Yet research on romantic relationships shows that external...
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Childhood family adversity predicts adult interpersonal behavior and physiological responses to interpersonal stress. Additionally, negative marital behaviors (e.g., hostility and distress maintaining attributions) predict maladaptive stress responses and mental health problems, whereas positive marital behaviors (e.g., acceptance and relationship...
Article
Background The quality of interpersonal ties—especially closer relationships—appears to be associated with physical health outcomes. Sleep is one pathway through which relationships and health appear to be linked, but this has been inadequately investigated in the context of dyadic attachment. Purpose The present study examined links between relat...
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This article examines how individual differences in adult attachment shape regulatory strategies and relationship behaviors, which in turn influence health-related responses, behaviors, and outcomes. We review links between attachment and physiological responses to stress (e.g., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses, cardiovascular response...
Preprint
Background The quality of interpersonal ties-especially closer relationships-appears to be associated with physical health outcomes. Sleep is one pathway through which relationships and health appear to be linked, but this has been inadequately investigated in the context of dyadic attachment. Purpose The present study examined links between relati...
Article
Full-text available
The contextual amplification hypothesis posits that girls’ early pubertal timing will predict anxiety and depression symptoms most strongly when early puberty occurs under adverse conditions. Research supporting this hypothesis has consistently linked early pubertal timing occurring in adverse contexts to symptoms during adolescence, but little is...
Article
We investigated the extent to which individual differences in activity of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) are associated with depressive symptoms among newlywed couples. Participants were 218 couples (M age 28.4 years; 94% White) who provided 5 saliva samples (later assayed for cortisol and DHEA-S) before and after participation in a...
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Although close relationships require partners to depend on one another for mutual responsiveness, avoidantly attached individuals are especially averse to risking such dependency. The authors propose that both avoidant and non-avoidant individuals perceive signs of their own and their partners' responsiveness in ways that reflect motivated percepti...
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Objectives: Health psychology has contributed significantly to understanding the link between psychological factors and health and well-being, but it has not often incorporated advances in relationship science into hypothesis generation and study design. We present one example of a theoretical model, following from a major relationship theory (att...
Article
Although many studies have indicated that people in low-quality relationships are less healthy, precisely how relationships influence health remains unclear. We focus on one physiological pathway that may provide clues to the link between relationships and health: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Evidence indicates that attachment pro...
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Contemporary U.S. culture has a highly individualistic ethos. Nevertheless, exactly how this ethos was historically fostered remains unanalyzed. A new model of dynamic cultural change maintains that sparsely populated, novel environments that impose major threats to survival, such as the Western frontier in the United States during the 18th and 19t...
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Individuals differ in the extent to which they emphasize feelings of pleasure or displeasure in their verbal reports of emotional experience, termed valence focus (VF). Two event-contingent, experience-sampling studies examined the relationship between VF and sensitivity to pleasant and unpleasant social cues. It was predicted, and found, that indi...
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The present study builds on an emerging body of research that finds adult attachment style predictive of interpersonal engagement with fictional media personas in ways that are congruent to patterns that emerge in real life relationships. Results of a questionnaire study indicate that a preoccupied attachment style among college women is associated...
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Two event-contingent diary studies investigated whether people of different attachment styles value partners for different reasons (e.g., self-esteem regulation, closeness). In Study 1, preoccupied individuals more positively regarded partners when they provided help with self-regulatory functions, and they did so to a greater extent than either se...
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This study investigated theoretically predicted links between attachment style and a physiological indicator of stress, salivary cortisol levels, in 124 heterosexual dating couples. Cortisol was assessed at 7 points before and after an experimental conflict negotiation task, creating a trajectory of stress reactivity and recovery for each participa...
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Several theorists have proposed that differential socialization experiences lead men and women to differ in the importance they assign to relationships and in how they interpret and respond to relationships. To explore this idea, this study examined whether men and women who reported similar attachment experiences responded differently to informati...
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The internal working models concept is the foundation for understanding how attach-ment processes operate in adult relationships, yet many questions exist about the precise nature and structure of working models. To clarify the working models concept, the authors evaluate the empirical evidence relevant to the content, structure, operation, and sta...
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In recognition of the broad influence of attachment theory, the articles in this issue cut across diverse areas of psychology and multiple levels of analysis. T. R. Insel (2000) focuses on the molecular level, discussing the complex link between neurobiology and attachment behavior in nonhuman animals. The three articles by J. Cassidy (2000), R. C....
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Individuals preoccupied with attachment chronically desire a high level of intimacy and responsiveness from relationship partners. Conflict may provide an opportunity to meet these goals because it may force partners to respond to each other. The present study tested the prediction that, for higher conflict relationships, preoccupied individuals wo...
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The present study examined whether sex differences in emotion are related to the social context and addressed differences between global, retrospective, and on-line, momentary self-descriptions of emotional experience and expression. Participants provided global, retrospective descriptions of their emotional characteristics at an initial session, a...
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H. T. Reis and P. Shaver's (1988) interpersonal process model of intimacy suggests that both self-disclosure and partner responsiveness contribute to the experience of intimacy in interactions. Two studies tested this model using an event-contingent diary methodology in which participants provided information immediately after their social interact...
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This study tested whether working models of attachment guide how people construe and respond to social interactions by examining immediate responses to a range of everyday interactions and to specific attachment-relevant interactions. Patterns for immediate reports were compared with those for more memory-based, global reports. Secure, preoccupied,...
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The present study examined whether individuals' personality ratings on dimensions of the five-factor model (i.e., extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness) predicted their immediate perceptions of themselves and others during daily social interactions. Participants completed personality measures at an...
Article
We examined the links among attachment, caregiving, and relationship functioning in both dating (Study 1) and married couples (Study 2), assessing both partners' perspectives. We found that (1) men and women generally evidenced caregiving characteristics similar to those of their parent% especially their same-sex parent; (2) individuals who reporte...
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Interpersonal relationships present difficulties for dysphoric individuals, but the specific contexts in which these difficulties arise remain poorly understood. The authors examined several factors hypothesized to affect how dysphoric and nondysphoric individuals react to each other. Female college students interacted with either a friend or stran...
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Two studies examined depressives' working models of others and the relative contribution of these models and depression to relationship functioning. Respondents reported on their childhood relationships, adult attachment style, and relationship functioning. Study 1 compared mildly depressed and nondepressed college women, and Study 2 compared marri...
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Conflicting views of depressives' interpersonal accuracy were addressed in an investigation of the accuracy of mild depressives (dysphorics) across differing social contexts. Women who were either friends or strangers and who were either similar or dissimilar in level of dysphoria conversed about 3 topics: a neutral topic, their own disclosure of a...
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We investigated the relationship of employment to self-perception and well-being in women who held two different cognitive orientations toward paid work (career oriented and not career oriented) and who also varied in the degree to which their current employment status realized their view of paid work. The data were taken from a 1977 survey of a la...
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The present study investigated the contribution of cognitive and social factors to the decision style of depressed persons. During two sessions (Times 1 and 2), depressed and nondepressed college students were asked to imagine themselves making decisions about common life situations that afforded potential benefits but that also entailed potential...
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This research relies on data from a survey conducted in 1981 to explore the potential negative and positive consequences of having multiple roles. The responses of 500 employed women to questions about self-esteem, satisfaction with careers, partners, and children, and perceptions of life stress and pleasure were examined. The number of roles held...
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We investigated the nature and content of the negative thoughts that accompany depression by examining thoughts about oneself and others during three cognitive tasks: imaging, recall, and inference. Mildly depressed and nondepressed subjects were asked to image, recall, and make inferences about a variety of events while thinking about themselves o...
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This study examined the role of affect in the organization of self-relevant thoughts in depression. Depressed and nondepressed college students described themselves by selecting adjectives and organizing these adjectives into categories that represented different aspects of themselves. Individuals also supplied a label to describe the general conte...
Thesis
The content and organization of the negative view of self that accompanies depression were investigated in two experiments. The first experiment explored the content of the depressive's self-structure by examining thoughts about the self and others during three cognitive tasks--imaging, recall, and inference. Mildly depressed and nondepressed colle...
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The accessibility of a category in memory has been shown to influence the selection and interpretation of social information. The present experiment examined the possibility that information relevant to a trait category (hostility) presented outside of conscious awareness can temporarily increase that category's accessibility. 108 male undergraduat...
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Subjects read about the Darley and Batson findings that (a) the degree to which people were in a hurry strongly influenced the likelihood that they would help a person in need of aid, while (b) several personality variables studied failed to influence helping. In predicting helping rates for other, similar situations, informed subjects (a) estimate...
Article
Partly in response to the negative social consequences of being unattractive, more and more people every year are turning to medical and dental professionals in the United States for alterations of their facial structures. Using standards for normal and abnormal dentofacial appearance developed in orthodontics, three studies were conducted to deter...

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Project (1)
Project
The broad goal of this project is to understand basic psychological, behavioral and physiological processes that contribute to married couples’ health and relationship functioning over the early years of marriage. The Growth in Early Marriage (GEM) project is a three-wave longitudinal study that focuses on how attachment processes in marital relationships may shape neuroendocrine, behavioral, and subjective responses over time, and in turn, whether these processes contribute to emotional and physical health risks. At Wave 1, 225 newly married couples participated in the study, and these couples were followed over the first 3-4 years of their marriage. Some of the issues we are currently investigating include: (1) the extent to which physiological stress responses (e.g., cortisol responses) over the course of a discussion of a major issue of disagreement or conflict remain stable or change over the early years of marriage, and the extent to which characteristics of both spouses (e.g., both spouses’ attachment orientations or coded behavior during the interactions) moderate these effects (2) the links among attachment, physiological stress responses and emotional health (e.g., symptoms of depression) (3) whether and how attachment orientations change over the early years of marriage, and moderators of different patterns of change or stability (4) early child adversity (i.e., growing up in a risky family environment, early pubertal timing), adult attachment, and emotional health (5) power and influence strategies within newly married couples’ relationships as predictors of behavior and relationship adjustment over time