TTU Home Human Sciences Home HDFS Home

Human Development and Family Studies

Faculty Profile

Dr. Sylvia Niehuis
Sylvia Niehuis, Ph.D.
Human Development and Family Studies
(806)834-7382 - Office: HS 303

University of Texas, Austin, 2001

Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies


My program of research focuses on the development of premarital relationships within various ecological contexts, such as family, peer groups, and culture. I explore whether and how couples' courtship experiences bear upon their subsequent marital relationship, using dyadic, longitudinal data. For example, I have examined how various premarital events (such as pregnancy) and courtship experiences (such as cohabitation) influence the likelihood and timing of marital disruption. I have also studied interpersonal psychological processes that move couples toward marriage and, in particular, the interplay between those dyadic processes and long-term marital outcomes. For instance, I have looked at how individuals build up overly favorable perceptions of their partners' qualities and how disillusionment may later emerge as perceivers' lofty impressions of their partners succumb to the more realistic, less glamorous daily experiences of ongoing relationships.

Selected Funded Projects:

Reifman, A. (PI), & Niehuis, S. (Co-PI), Romantic Disillusionment and Brain Activity: Post-Pilot fMRI Session. Neuroimaging Seed Grant, College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University. Funded for FY 2015-2016.

Niehuis, S. (PI), Newlywed Couples' Shared Reality: Language Style Matching in Spouses' Courtship Interviews. Scholarship Catalyst Program, VPR, Texas Tech University. Funded for FY 2014-2015.

Reifman, A. (PI), & Niehuis, S. (Co-PI), Developing fMRI Studies of Romantic Relationships. Scholarship Catalyst Program, VPR, Texas Tech University. Funded for FY 2014-2015.

Niehuis, S. (PI), Transforming a Research Program on Marital Relationships to Encompass Psychological and Physical Health. Creative Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; VPR, Texas Tech University. Funded for FY 2011-2012.

Niehuis, S. (PI), Reifman, A. (Co-PI), & Lee, K.-H.*  Proposal to Administer the Marital Disillusionment Scale in the NCFMR/Knowledge Networks Panel Survey. National Center for Family & Marriage Research, Bowling Green State University. Awarded for FY 2010-2011.

Niehuis, S. (PI). The Development of Commitment to Marriage in Hispanic Newlywed Couples. Faculty Diversity Development Award; Office of Institutional Diversity & the Cross Cultural Academic Advancement Center, Texas Tech University. Funded for FY 2008-2009.

Niehuis, S. (PI), Decision-Making Processes in Premarital and Marital Relationships. Associate Dean for Research and Faculty, College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University. Funded for FYs 2007- 2009.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications
(*=Graduate Student Author)

Busby, D., Boden, J. S.*, Niehuis, S., Reifman, A., & Fitzpatrick, J. (in press). Predicting partner enhancement in marital relationships: The family of origin, attachment, and social network approval. Journal of Family Issues.

Niehuis, S., Reifman, A. S., Fischer, J. L., & Lee, K.-H.* (in press). Do episodic self- and partner-uncertainty mediate the association between attachment orientations and emotional responses to relationship-threatening events in dating couples? Cognition and Emotion.

Fischer, J. L., Fredrick, H., Niehuis, S., Sollie, D., Engler, R., Corwin, M., Herbert, R., SoRelle, D., Lutz, A., & Schrick, B. (in press). Cross-sectional and longitudinal predictors of well-being: invariance across 25 years. Journal of Positive Psychology.

Niehuis, S., Reifman, A., Feng, D., & Huston, T. L. (in press). Courtship progression rate and declines in expressed affection early in marriage: A test of the disillusionment model. Journal of Family Issues.

Niehuis, S., Reifman, A., & Lee, K.-H.* (2015). Disillusionment in cohabiting and married couples: A national study. Journal of Family Issues, 36, 951-973.

Niehuis, S., Lee, K.-H.*, Reifman, A., Swenson, A.*, & Hunsaker, S.* (2011). Idealization and disillusionment in intimate relationships: A review of theory, method, and research. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 3, 273-302.

Lee, K.-H.*, Swenson, A. V. R.*, & Niehuis, S. (2010). His or her parents? Perceived parental approval of romantic relationships among college students and their partners. Interpersona, 4 (2). Available online (click here).

Boden, J.*, Fischer, J., & Niehuis, S. (2010). Predicting marital adjustment from young adults’ initial levels and changes in emotional intimacy over time: A 25-year longitudinal study. Journal of Adult Development, 17, 121-134.

Busby, D. M., Holman, T. B., & Niehuis, S. (2009). The association between partner enhancement and self-enhancement and relationship quality outcomes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 449-464.

Higginbotham, B., Miller, J.*, & Niehuis, S. (2009). Remarriage preparation: Usage, perceived helpfulness, and dyadic adjustment. Family Relations, 58, 316-329.

Niehuis, S., Huston, T. L., & Rosenband, R.* (2006). From courtship into marriage: A new developmental model and methodological critique. Journal of Family Communication, 6, 23-47.

Miller, P. J., Niehuis, S., & Huston, T. L. (2006). Positive Illusions in Marital Relationships: A 13-Year Longitudinal Study. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1579-1594.