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Theresa E. DiDonato, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Social Sciences and Graduate Programs, Professor
Theresa DiDonato smiling at the camera.


  • B.A. (Psychology & English with Honors) - Wellesley College
  • Sc.M. - Brown University
  • Ph.D. - Brown University

Courses Taught

  • PY 101 - Introductory Psychology
  • PY 201 - Social Psychology
  • PY 291 & 292 - Research Methods I and II
  • PY 418 & 419 - Research Seminar in Psychology: Close Relationships
  • PY 418 & 419 - Research Seminar in Psychology: Psychology of Happiness


  • Betz, D. E., & DiDonato, T. E. (2024). Downward-punching disparagement humor harms interpersonal impressions and trust. Humor, Advanced online publication. [doi]
  • DiDonato, T. E. & Jakubiak, B. K. (2023). The Science of Romantic Relationships. Cambridge University Press.
  • Krueger, J. I., Heck, P. R., Evans, A. M., & DiDonato, T. E. (2020). Social game theory: Preferences, perceptions, and choices. European Review of Social Psychology, 31(1), 222-253. [doi]
  • DiDonato, T. E. (2020). Self-authenticity and the Michelangelo Phenomenon. In B. Mattingly, K. McIntyre, G. Lewandowski, Jr. (Eds.), Interpersonal relationships and the self-concept (pp. 105-123). Springer, Cham. [doi]
  • Betz, D. E., & DiDonato, T. E. (2020). Is it sexy to be sexist? How stereotyped humor affects romantic attraction. Personal Relationships, 27(4), 732-759. [doi]
  • DiDonato, T. E., & Jakubiak, B. K. (2016). Strategically funny: Romantic motives affect humor style in relationship initiation. Europe's Journal of Psychology, 12(3), 390-405. [doi]
  • DiDonato, T. E., & Jakubiak, B. K. (2016). Sustainable decisions signal sustainable relationships: How purchasing decisions affect perceptions and romantic attraction. Journal of Social Psychology, 156(1), 8-27. [doi]
  • DiDonato, T. E., McIlwee, L. J., & Carlucci, M. E. (2015). The fallout of forgiveness: How forgiveness predicts third-party perceptions of the forgiver and the forgiver's relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(4), 417-440. [doi]

Areas of Specialization

As a social psychologist and relationship scientist, I am keenly interested in how people build, maintain, and dissolve their romantic relationships. For many adults, their romantic relationships constitute their closest relationship, and the quality of these relationships affects individuals’ psychological and physical wellbeing. How then, do we form and sustain strong, healthy partnerships?

My empirical work in relationship science has focused predominantly on romantic attraction and partner-facilitated self-authenticity, along with forgiveness and capitalization. Some questions I have asked include: how does the use of different humor styles (including sexist humor) affect romantic interest? Do people strategically use humor to advance specific romantic motives? How does the experience of affirmation within a romantic relationship promote self-authenticity? A sample of recent publications is listed below.

My teaching interests include core psychology courses, such as introductory psychology, research methodology, and social psychology, as well as specialized courses in social psychology, including interpersonal behavior and advanced research courses on close relationships.