Department of Psychology
UMass Amherst


Listen to 3 researchers discuss close relationships and health (webinar sponsored by the Social Personality and Health Network, recorded on May 15, 2014):

Congratulations to

...Gabriela Quiñones for receiving the 2014 Distinguished Contribution Award for the Society for a Science Clinical Psychology Student Poster Competition!

...Jana Lembke (UMass, Amherst) and Onawa LaBelle(University of Michigan) for receiving 2014 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships!

...Rachel Boutte and Marissa Foto who will begin graduate work in Fall 2014!



RA Application

GEM Project

Attachment Resources & Researchers


Lab Director: Paula Pietromonaco
Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Ph.D., University of Michigan
B.A., University of California, Los Angeles

Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 8), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, Center for Research on Families; Member of the International Association for Relationship Research

Research Funding: National Cancer Institute

Contact Information:
Department of Psychology, 135 Hicks Way, Tobin Hall
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: (413) 545-3156

Collaborators (See their websites for more information)

Sally Powers, Professor
Department of Psychology and
Neuroscience and Behavior Program
Director of the Center for Research on Families
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Aline Sayer, Associate Professor
Director of Methodology, Center for Research on Familes
Department of Psychology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Lisa Feldman Barrett, Distinguished Professor of Psychology
Northeastern University

Lindsey Beck, Assistant Professor
Emerson College

My research examines how people initiate, develop, and maintain close relationships. Specifically, my work proposes that balancing the need to form and strengthen close relationships against the need to self-protect gives rise to interesting patterns of behaviors, emotions, and cognitions that are unique to relationship initiation. In addition, individual differences in the extent to which people have these needs lead to differential patterns during relationship initiation and maintenance. For example, some of my current research on relationship maintenance processes investigates how the interplay between newlywed partners attachment styles shapes their physiological, behavioral, and psychological responses to stress use diverse methodologies to investigate these topics, including developmental approaches, biological methods, field studies, true experimental designs, longitudinal methods, and daily-report studies.

Suzanne Miller, Professor
Director Psychosocial and Biobehavioral Medicine Program Fox Chase Cancer Center

Amber Douglas, Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Mount Holyoke College

Current Graduate Students

Casey DeBuse

I am interested in the processes underlying relationship initiation, formation, and maintenance.  I am currently working on two lines of research investigating these processes.  One line focuses on understanding when and why people sometimes choose to become romantically involved with individuals who might make poor relationship partners.  The other focuses on the links between romantic partners’ physiological responses to relationship conflict and their psychological well-being. Casey was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2010.

Cassie DeVito

I am primarily interested in the role of close relationships in contributing to health and psychological well-being. Specifically, my research examines how attachment orientations are related to depression and the extent to which partners’ attachment-related behaviors may increase or reduce the risk of developing depressive symptoms.  I also am particularly interested in how attachment styles change within the first few years of marriage and the extent to which these changes are precipitated by interpersonal, behavioral and physiological processes.

Fiona Ge

I am a graduate student in the social psychology program. I received a B.A. in Psychology, with minors in Quantitative Methods and Business from the University of Kansas in 2011. My main research interests are close relationships and attachment styles.  My current research focuses on how people’s accuracy in perceiving their spouse's attachment style is linked to their emotional and behavioral reactions and relationship functioning. I am also interested in the patterns of stability and change in adult attachment, and how these patterns predict personal well-being and relationship outcomes.

Onawa LaBelle
Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program Intern, 2012-2013; Currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Personality & Social Contexts Program

My research interests broadly encompass close relationships, with a special focus on attachment processes, emotion, and psychological well-being. I am particularly interested in understanding how attachment orientations interface with gender and gender role-related  attitudes and behavior  (e.g., division of household labor). I also am interested in the positive aspects of close relationships and their contribution to physical and mental health. I completed a one-year PREP internship in Dr. Pietromonaco's lab and am now a first year graduate student at the University of Michigan. I earned my B.A. in Psychology from Smith College in 2012. Onawa was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2014.


Jana Lembke

My research focuses on close relationships, interpersonal behavior, and positive emotions.  I completed my B.A. in Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and am currently a graduate student working with Dr. Paula Pietromonaco.  My current research focuses on conflict recovery and emotion regulation in newlywed couples.  I enjoy using a variety of methodologies such as participant self-reports, behavioral coding, psychophysiology, and biological measures to study well-being at the individual level as well as the relationship level. Jana was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2014.

Note: Jana also writes for the online site "Science of Relationships." See her articles on "Support in Developing Friendships: Why We Give More Than We Receive" and on why "All You Need is Love."

Jeff Winer

My primary research and clinical interests fall broadly within the field of developmental psychopathology, in particular, child and adolescent mental health from a biopsychosocial perspective.  My current research is focused on antecedents to psychopathology, specifically, the roles childhood family relationships and pubertal development play on adolescent and adult psychopathology.

Alysia Boyle

Alysia graduated from UMass in May 2012, after working as a research assistant in the GEM lab since her sophomore year. She received a grant from the Commonwealth College for her honors thesis research, which focused on the congruence between spouses’ perceptions and observers’ ratings of support giving during a conflict discussion. During 2012-2013, she managed many of the day-to-day activities in the GEM. She is currently working and applying to graduate programs and continues to be involved in the GEM project.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Kaitlyn Banschback

Kaitlyn graduated as a psychology major in May 2014. IShe completed a specialization program in Developmental Disabilities and Human Services and a Criminal Justice Certificate. She interned at a school for intellectually disabled children in New York where I shadowed a school psychologist, and she worked as a direct care worker in a group home in the Northampton/Amherst area. After graduating, I plan to work for a few years in the Boston area and then apply to graduate school.  In my free time, I enjoy hiking, time with friends and family, reading, and music.

Veronica Brandt

Veronica graduated in May 2014 with a major in psychology. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to study marriage and family therapy and addiction counseling. I hope to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in the Boston area, work with both heterosexual and homosexual couples, and effectively help families deal with problems that stem from a family member’s addiction. In my free time, I enjoy running and exercising, reading, spending time with family and friends, and of course the beach.

Marissa Foto

Marissa graduated in May 2014 as a psychology major and anthropology minor. She worked with the GEM lab for two years and found it to be a very rewarding experience. She will continue to work with the lab as an expert coder over the next year. She also will be attending graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree in social work. Her goals are to become a clinical social worker and to work with both adolescents and couples in underserved areas. In herfree time, she enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with family and friends. 

Kirsten Holmberg

Kirsten graduate in May 2014 and completed an honors thesis. She worked as a research assistant in the GEM lab for several years, and then served as lab manager for the GEM project for the 2013-2014 year. We are happy that she will continue in a part-time role as lab manager.

Rachel Boutte

Postbaccaulaureate Research and Education Program Intern

Rachel completed a research project this year and worked in the GEM lab. She applied to graduate programs and will be beginning graduate school in Fall 2014!

Sarah Richards

Sarah is majoring in psychology and minoring in education.  She is especially interested in social psychology and clinical psychology.  Sarah expects to graduate in 2015 and would like to attend graduate school in clinical psychology. She is interested in studying issues relevant to childhood and adolescence, with a focus on the effects of parent-child relationships. In her spare time, she enjoys running, spending time outdoors, traveling, and singing. 


Alumni: Undergrad Research Assistants:

Marlon Adams, Alanna Bernstein, Lili Bourgeois, Hayley Brooks, Ilana Cohen, Jordyn Cohen, Amanda Cote, Hannah Doucette*, Jenny Duncan*, Tovah Fishman-Larsh,Tressa Gamache, Alexa Garcia, Corinne Golash*, Joanna Hong*, Devon Hurd, Kate Jopson*, Emily Kelleher, Morgan Kelly*, Amanda Kupiec, Josie Lee*,Joy Lee, Brittany Lewis, Becky Lieberman, Natalie Lockhart, Jen Ludwig, Elizabeth McKibben, Nina Medoff, Julia Medzhitova, Jenny Mello, Maya Messing-Shaffer, Lauren Meyer, Alison Neto, Melanie Lund, Katherine O'Brien, Taryn O’Hearn, Stephanie Pallone, Dipti Patel, Amanda Persaud*, Nithya Prabhala*, Julia Sadowski, Caitlin Sherman*, Jackson Ulrich, Christina Wang, Becca Wolstencroft*, Sara Woodworth
*Honors thesis

Alumni: Ph.D. Students

Katherine Carnelley, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton (UK)

Dara Greenwood, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Vassar College

Bjarne Holmes, Associate Professor, Director, Education and Human Studies, Champlain College

Luis Rivera, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University-Newark

Lucy Robin, Managing Partner at Fulcrum Research Group

Michael Vernon, Research Analyst for State of Oregon

Mattitiyahu Zimbler


Lab Photos: Growth in Early Marriage Project


Marissa at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences celebration (May 10, 2014):


GEM Lab Party March 2014








Department of Psychology. University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Produced and maintained by Paula Pietromonaco.