Benjamin Karney

Benjamin Karney
Adjunct Behavioral Scientist
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. and M.A. in social psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; B.A. in psychology, Harvard University

Media Resources

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Benjamin R. Karney is an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor of social psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an expert on interpersonal relationships, especially marriage, and has done extensive research on how relationship processes and interactions are facilitated or constrained by the contexts in which they take place. This has included research on marriages in the military, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, and curently involves marriages in low-income populations, funded by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development. He has been the director and principal investigator of the Florida Project on Newlywed Marriage, a series of longitudinal studies examining the processes through which initially satisfying marriages either remain satisfying or deteriorate over time, and in 2003, he conducted the baseline survey of marriage and families for the state of Florida as part of their initiative to strengthen families. Karney codirects the UCLA Relationship Institute and consults for the Strengthening Healthy Marriage project, a national experimental study of marital interventions for low-income populations, sponsored by the Administration on Children and Families. He has twice been the recipient of the National Council on Family Relation’s Reuben Hill Research and Theory Award for outstanding contributions to family science. Karney received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Professor of Social Psychology, UCLA

Recent Projects

  • Effects of stress on marital processes
  • Divorce rates in military marriages
  • Intimate relationships among youth and young adults
  • Marriage in low-income populations

Selected Publications

B. R. Karney et al., Family Formation in Florida: 2003 Baseline Survey of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Demographics Relating to Marriage and Family Formation, University of Florida, 2003

Karney, B. R., "Not Shifting But Broadening the Focus of Marital Research," Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 2007

Neff, L. A. & Karney, B. R., "Stress crossover in newlywed marriage: A longitudinal and dyadic perspective," Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 2007

B. R. Karney and T. N. Bradbury, "Contextual Influences on Marriage: Implications for Policy and Intervention," Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 2005

L. A. Neff and B. R. Karney, "Gender Differences in Social Support: A Question of Skill or Responsiveness?" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 2005

L. A. Neff and B. R. Karney, "How Does Context Affect Intimate Relationships? Linking External Stress and Cognitive Processes Within Marriage," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 2004

J. K. McNulty and B. R. Karney, "Positive Expectations in the Early Years of Marriage: Should Couples Expect the Best or Brace for the Worst?" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 2004

Honors & Awards

  • Early Career Award, Relationship Researchers Interest Group of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology
  • Reuben Hill Research and Theory Award, National Council on Family Relations
  • Berscheid-Hatfield Award for Distinguished Mid-Career Achievement, International Association for Relationship Research