Assistant Professor
Clinical Program
156 Psychology Building
(706) 542-3033
Curriculum Vitae: 
Dr. Lavner will be reviewing applications for the admission of a graduate student for Fall 2018.



Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2014

Research Interests

My research examines couple and family relationships over time. Much of my research focuses on understanding couple dynamics, including (1) how relationship satisfaction changes, (2) initial vulnerabilities such as maladaptive personality traits that put couples at risk for poor outcomes, and (3) other changes in couples’ lives that occur alongside changes in satisfaction (e.g., changes in personality, communication, or external stress). I am also interested in understanding the unique challenges experienced by disadvantaged families, including contextual stressors such as financial strain and racial discrimination.

In addition to my basic research on couple and family processes, I am interested in preventive and therapeutic interventions for couples and families. I am currently co-PI (with Leann Birch) on a 4-year grant from the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) focusing on first-time African American mothers and their infants. In collaboration with the Center for Family Research at the University of Georgia and Augusta University Medical Center, this project examines whether providing mothers of newborns with responsive parenting guidance to promote infant sleep and soothing can reduce rapid weight gain for African American infants born in low SES contexts, and also examines the risk and protective factors (e.g., depressive symptoms, contextual stress, relationship support/strain) that may affect program efficacy. This study will advance our understanding of family dynamics and health during the newborn period and represents an important step in efforts to reduce obesity risk among low income African Americans.

A secondary area of interest is family and mental health issues among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations. I have examined family functioning among LGBT adolescents, same-sex couples, and same-sex parents and their adoptive children.

Recent Publications

Barton, A. W., Beach, S. R. H., Lavner, J. A., Bryant, C. M., Kogan, S. M., & Brody, G. H. (in press). Is communication a mechanism of relationship education effects among rural African Americans? Journal of Marriage and Family. 

Lavner, J. A., Karney, B. R., Williamson, H. C., & Bradbury, T. N. (in press). Bidirectional associations between newlyweds' marital satisfaction and marital problems over time. Family Process. 

Weiss, B., Lavner, J. A., & Miller, J. D. (in press). Self- and partner-reported psychopathic traits' relations with communication, satisfaction, and divorce in a longitudinal sample of newlywed couples. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. 

Lavner, J. A. (2017). Relationship satisfaction in lesbian couples: Review, methodological critique, and research agenda. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 21, 7-29.

Lavner, J. A., & Bradbury, T. N. (2017). Protecting relationships from stress. Current Opinion in Psychology, 13, 11-14.

Lavner, J. A., & Clark, M. A. (2017). Workload and marital satisfaction over time: Testing lagged spillover and crossover effects during the newlywed years. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 101, 67-76. 

Lavner, J. A., Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (2016). Does couples’ communication predict marital satisfaction, or does marital satisfaction predict communication? Journal of Marriage and Family, 78, 680-694.


Courses Taught: