Carnegie Mellon University

Jennifer Tomlinson

Jennifer Tomlinson

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Colgate University


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.


Postdoctoral Research Fellow (August, 2010-2013). Carnegie Mellon University
National Research Service Award: Benefits of Partner Support for Self-Growth During the Transition to Retirement.  Advisor: Dr. Brooke Feeney

Ph.D. Social/Health Psychology (August, 2010). Stony Brook University
Quantitative Minor and Close Relationships Concentration
Dissertation Title: Perceived Partner Idealization: Is there an Optimal Level?
Committee Members: Drs. Arthur Aron, Joanne Davila, Antonio Freitas, and Harry Reis

M.A. Social/Health Psychology (May, 2007).  Stony Brook University
Master’s Thesis Title: Why We Don't Know What the Future Holds: Attachment as a Moderator of Affective Forecasts. Advisor: Dr. Arthur Aron

B.A. Psychology and Spanish (May, 2005).  University of Rochester
Honors Thesis Title: Attachment Style as a Source of Variability in Accuracy of Affective Forecasting. Advisor: Dr. Harry Reis
Magna Cum Laude, Departmental High Honors


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


Fivecoat, H.C., Tomlinson, J.M., Aron, A., & Caprariello, P.A. (in press). Partner responsiveness to one’s own self-expansion opportunities: Effects on relationship satisfaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Mashek, D., Milillo, D., & Tomlinson, J.M.  (in press). Early career considerations: Postdoctoral positions, adjunct teaching, and getting the first academic job. To appear in The Oxford Handbook of Undergraduate Psychology Education.

Tomlinson, J.M., Aron, A., Carmichael, C.L., Reis, H.T., & Holmes, J.G. (2013). The costs of being put on a pedestal The effects of feeling over-idealized in married and dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Online First. doi: 10.1177/0265407513498656

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 Development, 15, 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.

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.

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 Health, 16, 712-721.

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.

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.