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Sandra Murray, Ph.D.

Ph.D., University of Waterloo
364 Park Hall
(716) 645-0242
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Summary of Research Interests

My research examines motivated cognition in close relationships.  I am interested in understanding the unconscious and conscious processes at play when people encounter threatening situations in their relationships (e.g., incompatible preferences, a partner’s criticisms, a partner’s failure to provide support).  My research currently examines:  (1) the automatic and controlled processes involved in the experience of trust and commitment, (2) the effects of self-esteem and rejection on relationship functioning, and (3) the interplay on trust, commitment, and the birth of a first baby on the trajectories relationships take over time (supported by NSF).


Career Trajectory Award, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, 2012
Society of Personality and Social Psychology Theoretical Innovation Award, 2007
American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology (Area:  Social Psychology), 2003


Murray, S. L., & Holmes, J. G.  (2011).  Interdependent minds:  The dynamics of close relationships.  NY:  The Guilford Press.

Representative Publications

  • Murray, S. L., Gomillion, S., Holmes, J. G., Harris, B., & Lamarche, V.  (2013).  The dynamics of relationship promotion:  Controlling the automatic inclination to trust.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 305-334.
  • Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., Derrick, J. L., Harris, B., Griffin, D. W., & Pinkus, R. T.  (2013).  Cautious to a fault:  Self-protection and the trajectory of marital satisfaction.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 522-533.
  • Murray, S. L., Pinkus, R. T., Holmes, J. G., Harris,  B., Gomillion, S., Aloni, M., Derrick, J., & Leder, S. (2011).  Signaling when (and when not) to be cautious and self-protective:  Impulsive and reflective trust in close relationships.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 485-502.
  • Murray, S.L., Griffin, D. W., Derrick, J., Harris, B., Aloni, M., & Leder, S.  (2011).  Tempting fate or inviting happiness:  Unrealistic idealization prevents the decline of marital satisfaction in newlyweds.  Psychological Science, 22, 619-626.
  • Murray, S. L., & Holmes, J. G.  (2009).  The architecture of interdependent minds:  A motivation-management theory of mutual responsiveness.  Psychological Review, 116, 908-928.
  • Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., Aloni, M., Pinkus, R., Derrick, J. L., & Leder, S.  (2009).  Commitment insurance:  Compensating for the autonomy costs of interdependence in close relationships.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 256-278.
  • Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Collins, N. L.  (2006).  Optimizing assurance:  The risk regulation system in relationships.   Psychological Bulletin, 132, 641-666.