Thomas E. Trail

Photo of Thomas Trail
Behavioral Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in social psychology, Princeton University; B.S. in psychology, Virginia Tech


Thomas E. Trail is a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. Trail's research focuses on how stress affects relationship processes and health outcomes among military and civilian couples and the effectiveness of programs in mitigating family stress. Current research projects he is leading include the Today's Army Spouse Survey assessing the needs of Army spouses and their families and whether those needs are being met by Army and civilian services, an evaluation of the effectiveness of online peer support communities for improving the health and well-being of caregivers for ill or wounded veterans, and an evaluation of the Department of Defense programs that provide counseling services to military service members and their families. Trail was also an investigator for the Deployment Life Study, a longitudinal study of military families across the deployment cycle, where he studied the impact of deployment on family and child outcomes. Other recent research includes designing and evaluating a web-based intervention to help spouses concerned about their service member's alcohol use. Prior to joining RAND, Trail was a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton University and his M.S. in applied/experimental psychology from Virginia Tech.

Selected Publications

Troxel, W. M., Trail, T. E., Jaycox, L. & Chandra, A., "Preparing for deployment: Examining family and individual-level factors," Military Psychology, 28, 2016

Jackson, G. L., Trail, T. E., Kennedy, D. P., Williamson, H. C., Bradbury, T. N., & Karney, B. R., "The salience and severity of relationship problems among low-Income couples," Journal of Famly Psychology, 30, 2016

Trail, T. E., Meadows, S. O., Miles, J. N. V., & Karney, B. R., "Patterns of vulnerabilities and resources in U.S. military families," Journal of Family Issues, 2015

Trail, T. E., Goff, P. A., Bradbury, T. N., & Karney, B. R., "The costs of racism for marriage: How racial discrimination hurts, and ethnic identity protects, newlywed marriages among Latinos," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 2012

Trail, T. E. & Karney, B. R., "What’s (not) wrong with low-income marriages," Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 2012

Trail, T. E., Shelton, J. N., & West, T. V., "Daily interracial interactions and interpersonal behaviors," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 2009

Karney, B. R. & Trail, T. E., "Associations between prior deployments and marital satisfaction among Army couples," Journal of Marriage and Family, 79, 2017

Osilla, K. C., Trail, T. E., Pedersen, E. R., Gore, K. L., Tolpadi, A., & Rodriguez, L. M., "Efficacy of a web-based intervention for concerned spouses of service members and veterans with alcohol misuse," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy (forthcoming)


  • A soldier talking on a cell phone

    The Impact of Deployments on Military Marriages

    The evidence linking combat deployments directly to poorer marital functioning has been sparse and contradictory. Although marital satisfaction among military couples declined from 2003 to 2009, the divorce rate among them remained steady.

    Sep 2, 2016 Family Studies