Richard Mattson


Associate Professor of Psychology



Ph.D., Binghamton University
Area: Clinical Psychology
Phone: 607-777-4251
Office: CV 58

Professional Activities:

I am currently a member of the Association for Cognitive and Behavior Therapy (ABCT), its special interest group (SIG) for relationship research, and Division 43 of APA (Society for Family Psychology). I am a frequent reviewer for the Journal of Family Psychology, Personal Relationships, and Psychological Assessment. I am also a licensed clinical psychologist and typically maintain a small caseload for psychotherapy, assessment, and forensic work.

Research Interests:

My primary research aims are to (1) improve the conceptualization and assessment of satisfaction in relationships and (2) explore the causes and consequences of dysfunctional relationship communication.

Research Description:

Relationship satisfaction is arguably the most important construct in relationship research. My particular focus is on examining a two-dimensional conceptual model of this construct, which "has the potential to yield a richer picture of paths toward relationship distress" (Fincham & Rogge, 2010). The line of research also comprises an investigation of ambivalence towards one's relationship, as well as its antecedents and consequences over time.
My research on dyadic interaction ranges from relatively benign forms of communication (e.g., social support) to more damaging ones (e.g., intimate partner violence; IPV). For the former, I am currently building off previous work using observations of couple conflict (Mattson et al., 2007, 2010) to examine the relative validity of different affective communication coding systems. For the latter, my focus is on the interplay of IPV and problematic substance and alcohol use. Related, I am currently examining ways to improve the self-report validity of IPV measures.

Philosophy of Graduate Training:

Good training helps students think critically about what is learned. It instructs not on what to think, per se, but how to think. Training should also provide opportunities for guided application; which, at the graduate level, I believe entails three critical ingredients: ecological validity, constructive feedback, and opportunities for mastery. First, I stress the ecological validity of training in that I require students to apply concepts and information to tasks that mirror those encountered in the profession of psychological and clinical science. Second, I provide explicit feedback on a student's performance at every stage of their training, tailoring it specifically to his or her developmental needs. Third, as feedback is only useful if students are provided with opportunities for additional practice, students are allowed to revise and resubmit their work and receive additional feedback in an iterative fashion. It is important to note that my emphasis on feedback and continual improvement extend to my own development as well. That is, I continually strive to increase my acumen in the art of instruction and mentorship by way of student feedback, continuing education, and personal growth.

Selected Publications:

Mattson, R. E., Rogge, R. D., Johnson, M. D., Baker, E., & Fincham, F. D. (in press). The positive and negative semantic dimension of relationship satisfaction. Personal Relationships.

Mattson, R. E., O'Farrell, T. J., Lofgreen, A. M., Cunningham, S. K., & Murphy, C. M. (2011). The role of illicit substance use in a conceptual model of intimate partner violence in men undergoing treatment for alcoholism. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 26, 255-264.

Mattson, R. E., Frame, L. E., & Johnson, M. D. (2011). Premarital affect as a predictor of postnuptial marital satisfaction. Personal Relationships, 18, 532-546.

Mattson, R. E., Paldino, M., & Johnson, M. D. (2007). The increased construct validity and clinical utility of assessing relationship quality using separate positive and negative dimensions. Psychological Assessment, 19, 146-151.

Last Updated: 6/27/14