Jennifer Tomlinson

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Jennifer Tomlinson

Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Department/Office Information

Psychological and Brain Sciences
109 Olin Hall

How do close relationships bring out the best in us? My research program is designed to understand the ways in which relationship partners can encourage one another to seek out opportunities for personal growth, and how this can benefit relationships and health. I also seek to understand how partners can maintain healthy relationships by communicating positive regard and finding optimal levels of idealization (when one perceives a partner to view oneself slightly more positively than one sees oneself). Students in my lab will be exposed to a variety of research methods (including experimental, longitudinal, physiological, and observational) and consider relationship processes in both younger and older adults.

BA, University of Rochester, 2005; MA (2007), PhD (2010), Stony Brook University

Social psychology, health psychology, close relationships, psychophysiology, and statistics.

*Indicates a Colgate student co-author.

Tomlinson, J.M., Feeney, B.C., Peters, B., & *Zhang, Y. (in press). Physiological correlates of partner support for self-expansion and links to goal pursuit in retirement. Psychophysiology.

*Yarrington, J.S., Tomlinson, J.M., *Zhang, Y., & *Sherry, A. (in press). Goal conflict in retirement: Implications for satisfaction, goal pursuit, and health. Personal Relationships.

Monin, J.K., Feeney, B.C., Tomlinson, J.M., Levy, B., Clark, M., & Gruber, J. (2021). Older spouses’ laughter and blood pressure reactivity in response to partner stress. Health Psychology.

Piechota, A., Ali, T., Monin, J.K., & Tomlinson, J.M. (2021). Social participation and marital satisfaction in mid to late life marriage. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Tomlinson, J.M., Feeney, B.C., & Peters, B. (2020). Growing into retirement: Longitudinal evidence for the importance of partner support for self-expansion. Journal of Psychology and Aging, 35, 1041–1049.

Tomlinson, J.M., Hughes, E.K., Lewandowski, G.W., Jr., Aron, A., & *Geyer, R. (2019). Do shared self-expanding activities have to be physically arousing? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 2781-2801.

Feeney, B.C., Van Vleet, M., Jakubiak, B., & Tomlinson, J.M. (2017). Predicting the pursuit and support of challenging life opportunities. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 1171-1187.

*Sherry, A., Tomlinson, J.M., Loe, M., & Feeney, B.C. (2017) Apprehensive about retirement: Women, life transitions, and relationships. Journal of Women and Aging, 29(6), 173-184.

Tomlinson, J.M., Feeney, B.C., & Van Vleet, M. (2016). A longitudinal investigation of relational catalyst support of goal strivings. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11(3), 246-257.

Fivecoat, H.C., Tomlinson, J.M., Aron, A., & Caprariello, P.A. (2015). Partner support for individual self-expansion opportunities: Effects on relationship satisfaction in long-term couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(3), 368-385. 

Tomlinson, J.M., Aron, A., Carmichael, C.L., Reis, H.T., & Holmes, J.G. (2014).  The costs of being put on a pedestal: The effects of feeling over-idealized in married and dating relationships.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships31(3), 384-409.

Feeney, B.C., Collins, N.L., Van Vleet, M., & Tomlinson, J.M. (2013). Motivations for providing a secure base: Links with attachment orientations and secure base behavior. Attachment and Human Development15, 261-280.

Tomlinson, J.M. & Aron, A (2013). The path to closeness: A mediational model for overcoming the risks of increasing closeness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30, 805-812.

Schulz, R., Beach, S.R., Cook, T.B., Martire, L.M., Tomlinson, J.M., & Monin, J.K., (2012). Predictors and consequences of lack of choice in informal caregiving. Journal of Aging and Mental Health16, 712-721.

Tomlinson, J.M., Carmichael, C.M., Reis, H.T., & Aron, A. (2010). Affective forecasting and individual differences: Accuracy for relational events and anxious attachment. Emotion, 10, 447-453.

Jakubiak, B.K., & Tomlinson, J.M. (2020). The role of social support in promoting self-development. In Mattingly, B.A., McIntyre, K.P., & Lewandowski, G.W., Jr. (Eds.) Interpersonal Relationships and the Self Concept. (pp. 125-144). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Mattingly, B., Tomlinson, J.M., & McIntyre, K. (2020). Advances in Self-Expansion. In L. Vanderdrift , C. Agnew, & X. Arriaga (Eds.) Advances in Personal Relationships. (pp. 225-245).  New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Aron, A. & Tomlinson, J.M. (2019). Love as expansion of the self. In R.J. Sternberg & K. Sternberg (Eds.) New Psychology of Love, 2nd Edition (pp. 1-24). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Tomlinson, J.M., Aron, A., & Hatfield, E. (2018). Romantic love. In D. Perlman & A. Vangelisti (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships (pp. 405-421)New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 

Mashek, D., Milillo, D., & Tomlinson, J.M. (2015). Early career considerations: Postdoctoral positions, adjunct teaching, and getting the first academic job. In D.S. Dunn (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Undergraduate Psychology Education (pp. 711-728). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Tomlinson, J.M. & Aron, A. (2013). The positive psychology of romantic love. In M. Hojjat & D. Cramer (Eds.), Positive Psychology of Love (pp. 3-15). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Tomlinson, J.M. & Aron, A. (2012). Relationship neuroscience: Where we are and where we might be going. In O. Gillath, G.E. Adams, and A.D. Kunkel (Eds.), Relationship Science: Integrating Evolutionary, Neuroscience, and Sociocultural Approaches (pp. 13-26). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University (2010-2013)


Year Award
2018 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Small Research Grant $1,500
2017 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Teacher/Scholar Travel Award
2013 University of Pittsburgh Aging Research Day Award for Excellence in Aging Research
2013 Discretionary Research Grant (Colgate University) $1,500
2012 Steve Duck New Scholar Award from the International Association for Relationship Research
2012 James McKeen Cattell Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Psychology from the New York Academy of Sciences
2011 Berkman Faculty Development Grant (Carnegie Mellon University) $5,500
2010 National Research Service Award from National Institute on Aging $143,670
2010 Award for Excellence in Teaching from Department of Psychology (Stony Brook University)
2009 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student (Stony Brook University)
2007 Summer Institute for Social Psychology (SISP): Selected from pool of graduate students for National Science Foundation-funded course on self-regulation and goals. (Austin, TX)
2005 Full Tuition Scholarship for Psychology Graduate Program (Stony Brook University)