Justin A. Lavner
Charles B. Knapp Early Career Scholar Award 2019
Justin A. Lavner, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, has advanced our understanding of how marriages change and why some relationships succeed and others struggle. He has focused on the newlywed years as a critical period of risk in marital life and identified a set of baseline vulnerability factors that increase the likelihood of more negative marital trajectories and divorce during this period. These vulnerability factors include maladaptive personality traits, poor communication and elevated levels of stress. He has outlined practical implications of his research, suggesting an expanded set of targets for preventive interventions for couples and families. Interventions, Lavner argues, should not only build a couple’s skills but also focus on reducing stress. His findings offer the field a flexible, broadly applicable framework for understanding relationships that is capable of guiding family policy and clinical interventions to promote well-being for couples and families.