Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Caryl Rusbult

Caryl Rusbult


Professor Caryl Rusbult died of uterine cancer on January 27, 2010, at the age of 57. To honor Professor Rusbult's dedication to training top scholars, the Relationship Researchers Interest Group and the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology established the Caryl E. Rusbult Young Investigator Award.

Social Psychology Network is maintaining this profile for visitors who wish to learn more about Professor Rusbult's work. Please see below for more information about Professor Rusbult:

Dr. Caryl Rusbult received her B.A. in Sociology from UCLA in 1974, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1978.

Most of her work concerns motivation and behavior in close relationships. Her research concerns commitment processes in close relationships, and examines both (a) the determinants of commitment and (b) the consequences of commitment, including (i) tendencies to accommodate rather than retaliate when a partner behaves poorly, (ii) willingness to sacrifice for the good of a partner and relationship, (iii) forgiveness of partner acts of betrayal, (iv) inclinations to derogate or drive away tempting alternatives, and (v) positive illusion, or tendencies to regard one's relationship as better than (and not as bad as) other relationships.

Her research has been funded by the NSF, NIMH, Templeton Foundation, and Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research. She received the 1991-92 New Contribution Award from the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships, as well as the 1991 Reuben Hill Award from the National Council on Family Relations. She has served as associate editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1990 to 1994) and the Encyclopedia of Psychology (1996 to 2000), and has been elected to the boards of several national and international organizations (e.g., Society of Experimental Social Psychologists, International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships).

She has taught graduate seminars and undergraduate courses on interpersonal processes and close relationships, interdependence structure and processes, research methods, introductory social psychology, and introductory psychology (along with other, less frequently taught courses such as organizational behavior and the psychology of human development).

Primary Interests:

  • Close Relationships
  • Gender Psychology
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Person Perception
  • Self and Identity

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Journal Articles:

Courses Taught:

  • Interdependence and Interaction
  • Interpersonal Processes

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