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M. Brent Donnellan - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

M. Brent Donnellan

Chair, Department of Psychology | Michigan State University


An expert in personality traits, personality assessment, personality development, and research practices in the psychological sciences.



M. Brent Donnellan Publication



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Donnellan investigates research questions at the intersections of personality psychology, developmental psychology, and psychological assessment. His current research efforts focus on the assessment of well-being, personality trait development, and methodological reform in psychological science. He currently serves as the Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Research in Personality.

Industry Expertise (4)

Electrical Engineering

Mental Health Care

Health Care - Providers

Writing and Editing

Areas of Expertise (4)


Personality Disorders



Education (2)

University of California, Davis.: Ph.D., Human Development 2001

University of California, Davis.: B.S., Psychology 1994

Affiliations (1)

  • Senior Associate Editor: Journal of Research in Personality

News (2)

Nature or Nurture? It’s All About the Message

MSU Today  


The research started as part of Schroder’s honors thesis as an undergraduate at MSU working in the Clinical Psychophysiology Lab directed by Jason Moser, MSU assistant professor. Moser co-authored the study along with Tim Moran, an MSU graduate student in cognitive psychology, and Brent Donnellan, a former MSU professor who now works at Texas A&M University...

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Spouses do not grow more alike, study finds



The research team also included M. Brent Donnellan and S. Alexandra Burt from the MSU Department of Psychology and William G. Iacono and Matthew McGue from the University of Minnesota...

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Journal Articles (3)

Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science


Open Science Collaboration

2015 Reproducibility is a defining feature of science, but the extent to which it characterizes current research is unknown. Scientific claims should not gain credence because of the status or authority of their originator but by the replicability of their supporting evidence. Even research of exemplary quality may have irreproducible empirical findings because of random or systematic error.

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An interactionist perspective on the socioeconomic context of human development

Annual Review of Psychology

Rand D Conger, M Brent Donnellan

2007 This article addresses the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES), family processes, and human development. The topic is framed as part of the general issue of health disparities, which involves the oft-observed positive relationship between SES and the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical well-being of adults and children. A review of recent research and theory identifies three general theoretical approaches that provide possible explanations for the association between SES and individual development: the social causation, social selection, and interactionist perspectives. Empirical evidence demonstrates support for the social causation view that SES affects families and the development of children in terms of both family stress processes (the family stress model) and family investments in children (the family investment model). However, there also is empirical support for the social selection argument that individual characteristics lead to differences in SES. Especially important, recent research is consistent with an interactionist approach, which proposes a dynamic relationship between SES and developmental change over time. Drawing on the combined set of research findings, the article concludes with the description of an interactionist model that serves as a heuristic for future studies of the links among SES, parenting behaviors, and child development.

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Low self-esteem is related to aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency

Psychological Science

M Brent Donnellan, Kali H Trzesniewski, Richard W Robins, Terrie E Moffitt, Avshalom Caspi

2005 The present research explored the controversial link between global self-esteem and externalizing problems such as aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency. In three studies, we found a robust relation between low self-esteem and externalizing problems. This relation held for measures of self-esteem and externalizing problems based on self-report, teachers' ratings, and parents' ratings, and for participants from different nationalities (United States and New Zealand) and age groups (adolescents and college students). Moreover, this relation held both cross-sectionally and longitudinally and after controlling for potential confounding variables such as supportive parenting, parent-child and peer relationships, achievement-test scores, socioeconomic status, and IQ. In addition, the effect of self-esteem on aggression was independent of narcissism, an important finding given recent claims that individuals who are narcissistic, not low in self-esteem, are aggressive. Discussion focuses on clarifying the relations among self-esteem, narcissism, and externalizing problems.

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