339 Human Ecology
University of Alberta
339 Human Ecology
Canada T6G 2N1
Assistant Professor, Family Ecology
My area of research is focused on intimate relationship formation, development, and maintenance over time, and understanding the key couple processes that contribute to relational and individual health. This broad interest leads to several specific lines of research.
First, I use secondary data and a developmental systems lens to explore how prior life experiences influence functioning within later intimate relationships. For example, I have used data gathered from a sample of Canadians over 25 years to understand how changes in symptoms of depression and expressions of anger during the transition to adulthood is linked with relationship outcomes during midlife directly and indirectly through perceptions of life stress in young adulthood. I am in the process of developing a grant to fund further exploration of this rich dataset with collaborators in the psychology and sociology departments.
A second line of research explores the mechanisms through which intimate relationships influence health outcomes. Using data from a pilot study of 117 couples where one partner is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I have written a series of manuscripts specifically examining how the coping efforts of the patient and healthy spouse impact important type 2 diabetes outcomes, such as adhering to a healthful diet or engaging in regular exercise. The initial findings stemming from this project are encouraging and exciting. I look forward to building on this line of inquiry in a broader study of couples that are followed across the transition period after receiving a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
I am also interested in understanding intimate relationship functioning in diverse cultural contexts. Using data gathered from young adult couples in Mainland China, I have authored papers exploring linkages between family dysfunction and intimate relationship success directly and indirectly through a variety of mediators, such as couple problem solving ability, negative couple interactions, and mental health. Understanding factors that determine relationship success cross-culturally enhances the science aimed at understanding intimate relationships by providing a more nuanced, contextually-informed perspective on healthy relationship functioning.
I am currently accepting hardworking graduate students interested in studying couples using a variety of statistical procedures.
Johnson, M. D., Galambos, N. L., & Krahn, H. J. (in press). Depression and Anger Across 25 Years:
Changing Vulnerabilities in the VSA Model. Journal of Family Psychology.
Anderson, J. R., Johnson, M. D., Liu, W., Zheng, F., Hardy, N. R., & Lindstrom, R. A. (in press). Young
Adult Romantic Relationships in Mainland China: Perceptions of Family of Origin Functioning are
Directly and Indirectly Associated with Relationship Success. Journal of Social and Personal
Johnson, M. D., Anderson, J. R., Nguyen, L., Liu, W., & Vennum, A. (in press). Associations between
Family Dysfunction, Mental Health Problems, Negative Couple Interaction, and Romantic
Relationship Success among Young Adult Chinese Couples. Journal of Social and Personal
Johnson, M. D., & Galambos, N. L. (2014). Paths to Intimate Relationship Quality from Parent-
Adolescent Relations and Mental Health. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76, 145-160.
Johnson, M. D., Anderson, J. R., Walker, A., Wilcox, A., Lewis, V. L., & Robbins, D. C. (2013). Common
Dyadic Coping is Indirectly Related to Dietary and Exercise Adherence via Patient and Partner
Diabetes Efficacy. Journal of Family Psychology, 27, 722-730.
Johnson, M. D., Anderson, J. R., Wilcox, A., Walker, A., Robbins, D. C., & Lewis, V. L. (2013). Relationship
Beliefs and Illness Appraisals are Differentially Associated with Specific Ways of Coping in
Spouses of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Psychology & Health, 28, 1442-1459.
Johnson, M. D. (2013). Parent-Child Relationship Quality Indirectly Influences Hooking Up Behavior
through Alcohol Use in Adolescence and Trajectories of Alcohol Use across Adolescence and
Young Adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1463-1472.
Johnson, M. D., & Anderson, J. R. (2013). The longitudinal association of marital confidence, time spent
together, and marital satisfaction. Family Process, 52, 244-256.