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Ellen S Berscheid

Department Affiliations


My theoretical and empirical work is primarily in the domain of close interpersonal relationships. I am particularly interested in problems associated with relationship satisfaction and stability, relationship cognition, and emotional experiences within relationships, especially love and sexual desire.

In contrast to most previous investigations of relationship satisfaction, which have focused on the attributes of the relationship partners, my recent theoretical and empirical work has been directed toward understanding how features of the relationship's "exterior" -- its physical and social environments -- influence the relationship's "interior" and the partners' satisfaction with the relationship.

Our research group currently is conducting several investigations of the factors people believe are enhancing the quality of their current romantic relationships and those they believe are reducing its quality from what it would otherwise be.

We hypothesize that, like most relationship therapists, people typically focus on "personal" causal conditions (their own dispositions, their partner's dispositions, and the manner in which these intersect) and tend to overlook environmental conditions that influence relationship quality. The causal attributions people make for the quality of their own and others' relationships are important because they guide the actions people take to maintain and improve the quality of their relationships, the advice they give to others in distressed relationships, and such attributions also often influence public policy decisions intended to promote relationship stability.


  • close relationships
  • cognition
  • emotion
  • interpersonal attraction
  • love
  • romantic relationships
  • satisfaction and stability
  • sexual attraction
  • social attraction

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1965,.


  • Berscheid, E., & Regan, P. C. (2005). The psychology of interpersonal relationships.
  • Berscheid, Ellen S, Berscheid, E., Snyder, M., & Omoto, A. (2004). Measuring closeness: The Relationship Closeness Inventory Revisited. The handbook of closeness and intimacy
  • Berscheid, E., & Reis, H. T. (1998). Attraction and close relationships. The handbook of social psychology, 4th edition, 193-281.

Professional Activities

  • President: International Society for the Study of Interpersonal Relationships , 1991 - 1992
  • President,: Society of Personality and Social Psychology , 1983 - 1985
  • National Research Council: Assembly of Behavioral and Social Sciences , 1973 - 1977


  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1998
  • Regents' Professorship, University of Minnesota
  • International Association for Relationship Research mid-career award named "Berscheid-Hatfield Award", 2000
  • Distinguished Career Award, International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships, 1998
  • Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, American Psychological Association, 1997
  • Distinguished Scientist Award, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, 1993
  • Donald T. Campbell Award for Distinguished Research in Social Psychology, Society of Personality and Social Psychology, 1984
  • Presidential Citation, American Psychological Association, 2003

Courses Taught

  • Psy 5204 - Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships
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