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Harry Reis - University of Rochester. Rochester, NY, US

Harry Reis Harry Reis

Professor of Psychology and Dean's Professor in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering | University of Rochester


Professor Harry Reis' research interests involve social interaction and close relationships.


Areas of Expertise (5)

Marriage and Close Relationships

Health and Psychological Well Being

Social interaction


Emotion Regulation



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The Mars vs. Venus Theory of the Sexes Comes Back to Earth



Professor Reis' research interests involve social interaction and close relationships. He studies the factors that influence the quantity and closeness of social interaction, and the consequences of different patterns of socializing for health and psychological well-being. In his research, subjects keep detailed records on their on-going social interaction. These are tabulated by computer and related to various factors such as sex role, health, and emotional well-being.

Professor Reis also looks at the psychological processes that affect the course and conduct of close relationships. He is particularly interested in intimacy, attachment, and emotion regulation.

Education (3)

New York University: Ph.D., Social-Personality Psychology 1975

New York University: M.A., Social-Personality Psychology 1972

City College of New York: B.S., Psychology 1970

Affiliations (2)

  • Council for International Exchange of Scholars : Fulbright Scholars Discipline Review Committee
  • Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology : Board member

Selected Media Appearances (18)

This Science-Backed Trick Could Help Prevent Infidelity In A Relationship

Huffington Post  online


“I think the benefits of perspective-taking holds true as long as people can stop and consider how romantic partners may be affected by these situations,” said study coauthor Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and the author of “Relationships, Well-Being and Behaviour.”

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5 Habits That Have Been Wiped Out By The Internet

Huffington Post  online


Harry Reis said that arguably we're better off with the internet. If the whole point of a letter was to connect, the internet has allowed just that.

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Opinion | What Is Fun? Can I Have It? Will We Ever Have It Again?

New York Times  print


Fun has just a few published studies. Dr. Harry Reis said that, to his knowledge, no psychology textbook has "fun" anywhere in its index.

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Millennial men are more accepting than ever, but they still won't do laundry

USA Today  print


It’s a new decade and women now hold more jobs than men. But they also still hold onto the majority of household duties. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 109,000 more women in the workforce than men. However, a Gallup poll reports that women are still more likely to do laundry, clean the house, do grocery shopping, prepare meals, wash dishes and make decisions about furniture and decorations – even among younger generations who are reportedly more egalitarian as ever.

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People Lie When Sex Is on the Brain – This Study Reveals How Much

SciTech Daily  online


In a new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, two researchers from the University of Rochester’s Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology and the Israeli-based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya conclude that when the possibility of sex looms, people are more likely to change their attitudes and engage in deceptive self-presentation. In other words, they conform, embellish, and sometimes lie. The duo of Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the IDC Herzliya, and Harry Reis, a professor of clinical and social sciences in psychology and Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester, hypothesized that sexual thoughts—or, in the researchers’ more precise terms, the activation of an individual’s sexual system—would increase a person’s efforts to manage first impressions, bringing with it deceptive self-presentation. What laypersons might describe as having sexual thoughts, researchers refer to more precisely as the activation of the sexual system or sexual priming. The phrase, Harry Reis explains, “means getting people to think about things in a sexual way. Technically it means activating a certain set of concepts in the brain. So, the parts of the brain that represent sexuality are being activated. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are getting genitally aroused.”

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Study suggests bizarre connection between lying and having sex

Fox News  online


As it turns out, people may not be able to help being dishonest if they think it'll lead to sex. A new study claims that not only will people say things they don’t believe in order to impress potential partners, but that the human brain may be hardwired to do so. This includes everything from minor exaggerations to outright lies. Researchers studied more than 600 students’ behaviors while they interacted with members of the opposite sex, the New York Post reports. The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. “People will do and say just about anything in order to make a connection with an attractive stranger,” study author Gurit Birnbaum said in a statement published by the University of Rochester. “When your sexual system is activated, you are motivated to present yourself in the best light possible. That means you’ll tell a stranger things that make you look better than you really are.” Birnbaum, an associate professor of psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya in Israel, also worked with University of Rochester professor Harry Reis on the study.

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Do Women Really Talk More Than Men?

Psychology Today  online


The idea that men and women are so different that they are from different planets will get in the way of communicating competently in your marriage. Gender stereotypes treat men and women as categories, not individual people who have hopes, wants, and dreams to share. It is by sharing these aspects of themselves that couples create a joint reality. A 2007 study conducted by Bobbi Carothers, a senior data analyst at Washington University, and Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, demonstrates the need for the Mars/Venus theories about the sexes to come back to earth.

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Scott Cummings podcast debate shows gap between men and women

The West Australian  online


Men are from Mars and women from Venus is a concept which has been lapped up by the corporate world and wider society for decades. This relationship Holy Bible was penned by a bloke whose qualifications include a diploma of meditation and a correspondence course in psychology and has been used by a generation of men and women as a way to explain common problems they face when trying to get along. Thankfully this nonsense was debunked several years ago by actual academics. “The common belief that men are from Mars and women are from Venus is really wrong, we are all from planet Earth,” Professor Harry Reis, a specialist in psychology at the University of Rochester, told the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (Subscription required)

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The emotional lives of caregivers

American Psychological Association  online


More than 28 million people in the United States provide care for chronically ill, disabled or older family members during any given year, according to a 2015 report from the National Alliance for Caregiving. Roughly one in 10 of them cares for a spouse. It can be a full-time job: On average, caregiving spouses spend 44.6 hours per week attending to their loved ones’ needs. As more people live long enough to experience multiple health issues and dependency, chances are good that at some point many of us will spend long hours either taking care of or being cared for by our partners. Monin first became interested in the field as an undergraduate student at the University of Rochester when she took a course on emotion and close-relationship processes from Harry Reis, PhD, who is often credited as an early pioneer in the field of relationship science. "That class really opened my eyes. I just couldn’t believe that someone could actually have a job where they got to think about how relationships work and why and how people express their emotions to one another," Monin says. "I kind of fell in love with social psychology at that point."

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Bring Parenting Happiness Back: 9 Ways Parents Can Rediscover Joy

Your Teen  online


Studies say parents struggle to feel happy when their kids are adolescents. Be kind to your partner. Think of small acts of kindness you can do for your partner, whether that means making coffee in the morning or washing the car. Harry Reis, Professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester, and his team found that engaging in these kinds of compassionate acts towards a spouse contributed to emotional well-being for both the donor and the recipient. In his study, the donor experienced even stronger benefits than the recipient.

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Bring Parenting Happiness Back: 9 Ways Parents Can Rediscover Joy

Your Teen  online

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California Riverside, says parents experience the most negative emotions when children are under five and when they become teenagers. A 2009 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that marital satisfaction decreased when a couple’s children became adolescents. 6. Be kind to your partner. Think of small acts of kindness you can do for your partner, whether that means making coffee in the morning or washing the car. Harry Reis, Professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester, and his team found that engaging in these kinds of compassionate acts towards a spouse contributed to emotional well-being for both the donor and the recipient. In his study, the donor experienced even stronger benefits than the recipient.

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How to be better at online dating, according to psychology

NBC  online


Online dating isn't for the faint of heart or those easily discouraged, says Harry Reis, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Dean's Professor in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, at University of Rochester. “There's the old saying that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince — and I think that really applies to online dating.” Reis studies social interactions and the factors that influence the quantity and closeness of our relationships. He coauthored a 2012 review article that analyzed how psychology can explain some of the online dating dynamics.

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How To Protect Your Well-Being From The Dangers Of Stress

Forbes  online


You know the travel drill. As soon as the flight crew closes the airplane’s doors, the flight attendants start the pre-flight safety demonstration showing what to do in the event of a decompression. But what do you do when you’re on the ground and the pressure increases? For many of us, dealing with spikes in our stress level — both positive and negative — is a daily occurrence, even when both of our feet are firmly planted on the ground.

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There's more evidence to suggest playing it cool is the worst idea if you really like someone

Business Insider  online


When you first start dating someone, at least one of your friends will tell you to "play it cool." It's a piece of advice that's almost as old as dating itself, and it's based on the idea that if you act like you're not really eager for the relationship, you suddenly become irresistible.

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Knowing someone is attracted to you really DOES make them more desirable, researchers find

The Daily Mail U.K.  print


He's just not that into you - or is he? New research from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and the University of Rochester has found that uncertainty about a potential partner's romantic interest in you could cause you to find them less sexually attractive. While some scientists have argued that uncertainty only adds to sexual appeal, six interrelated studies suggest otherwise.

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Are you really into me? Uncertainty dampens sexual attractiveness of a possible partner

ScienceDaily  online


Those who feel greater certainty that a prospective romantic partner reciprocates their interest will put more effort into seeing that person again, while rating the possible date as more sexually attractive than they would if they were less certain about the prospective date's romantic intentions.

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Random Acts of Kindness Make Marriages Happier

TIME  online


Doing something nice for your spouse can boost your emotional well being, according to a new study—even if he or she isn’t aware of your good deed. The research, published in the journal Emotion, provides scientific evidence that it really is better to give than to receive, say the authors. They also say it supports a hypothesis put forth by Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, that “compassionate concern for others’ welfare enhances one’s own affective state.”

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'Tis better to give, to your spouse

ScienceDaily  online


The emotional benefits of compassionate acts are significant for the giver, whether or not the recipient is even aware of the act, psychologists have found.

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Selected Event Appearances (5)

Eclipsing Mars and Venus: Implications of a dimensional view of sex differences

Science Teachers Association of New York State  Rochester, NY


The science of interpersonal relationships

Distinguished lectures, Universidad El Bosque  Bogotá, Colombia


The science of friendship and marriage

One-Day University  New York, NY


Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science

Phelps Colloquium Series  University of Rochester


Responsiveness: Affective interdependence in close relationships

Fifth Herzliya Symposium on Personality and Social Psychology  Herzliya, Israel


Selected Articles (5)

Does support need to be seen? Daily invisible support promotes next day relationship well-being.

Journal of Family Psychology

Grime, Y. U., Maniaci, M. R., Reis, H. T., McNulty, J. K., Carmichael, C. L., Gable, S. L., Baker, L. R., Overall, N. C.

2018 Direct and overt visible support promotes recipients' relationship satisfaction but can also exacerbate negative mood. In contrast, subtle and indirect invisible support can bypass costs to mood, but it is unclear whether it undermines or boosts relationship satisfaction. Because invisible support is not perceived by recipients, its relational impact may be delayed across time. Thus, the current research used three dyadic daily diary studies (total N = 322 married couples) to explore, for the first time, both the immediate (same day) and lagged (next day) effects of visible and invisible support on recipients' mood and relationship satisfaction. Consistent with prior research, visible support was associated with recipients reporting greater relationship satisfaction and greater anxiety the same day. In contrast, but also consistent with prior research, invisible support had no significant same-day effects, and thus avoided mood costs. Nevertheless, invisible support was associated with recipients reporting greater relationship satisfaction the next day. Study 3 provided evidence that such effects emerged because invisible support was also associated with greater satisfaction with partners' helpful behaviors (e.g., household chores) and relationship interactions (e.g., time spent together) on the next day. These studies demonstrate the importance of assessing different temporal effects associated with support acts (which may otherwise go undetected) and provide the first evidence that invisible support enhances relationship satisfaction but does so across days.

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Perceived partner responsiveness promotes intellectual humility

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Reis, H. T., Lee, K. Y., O'Keefe, S. D., Clark, M. S.

2018 The relatively novel construct of intellectual humility describes people's tendency to be open-minded and non-defensive when appraising oneself and one's beliefs. Although intellectual humility describes an intrapersonal style of processing information, we theorize that it also has interpersonal roots. This article describes four experiments and one daily-diary study examining the impact of perceived partner responsiveness and unresponsiveness on two manifestations of intellectual humility, lesser self-serving bias and openness to novel information that may contradicting existing beliefs. Studies 1–3 indicated that three well-established examples of self-serving bias—the tendency to rate oneself as better than an average peer, overclaiming personal responsibility for shared household activities, and hindsight bias—were strengthened when people were induced to perceive their partners as unresponsive, but weakened when they were led to perceive their partners as responsive. Study 4, a daily-diary study, demonstrated similar effects of everyday perceptions of responsiveness on hindsight bias, and also found that people reported having been more open to considering alternative, potentially conflicting points of view when they felt that their social environment was responsive to them. Finally, Study 5 found that perceived partner responsiveness led people to adopt a broader perspective. Together, these studies point to perceptions of responsiveness and unresponsiveness as one factor that lessens and intensifies, respectively, openness and non-defensiveness.

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Perceived Partner Responsiveness Scale (PPRS)

The Sourcebook of Listening Research: Methodology and Measures

Reis, H. T., Crasta, D., Rogge, R. D., Maniaci, M. R., & Carmichael, C. L.

2018 The PPRS is a measure of people's perceptions of their relationship partners' responsiveness to themselves.

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Men and Women Are From Earth: Examining the Latent Structure of Gender

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Carothers, B. J., & Reis, H. T.

2012 Taxometric methods enable determination of whether the latent structure of a construct is dimensional or taxonic (nonarbitrary categories). Although sex as a biological category is taxonic, psychological gender differences have not been examined in this way. The taxometric methods of mean above minus below a cut, maximum eigenvalue, and latent mode were used to investigate whether gender is taxonic or dimensional. Behavioral measures of stereotyped hobbies and physiological characteristics (physical strength, anthropometric measurements) were examined for validation purposes, and were taxonic by sex. Psychological indicators included sexuality and mating (sexual attitudes and behaviors, mate selectivity, sociosexual orientation), interpersonal orientation (empathy, relational-interdependent self-construal), gender-related dispositions (masculinity, femininity, care orientation, unmitigated communion, fear of success, science inclination, Big Five personality), and intimacy (intimacy prototypes and stages, social provisions, intimacy with best friend). Constructs were with few exceptions dimensional, speaking to Spence’s (1993) gender identity theory. Average differences between men and women are not under dispute, but the dimensionality of gender indicates that these differences are inappropriate for diagnosing gender-typical psychological variables on the basis of sex.

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Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science

Psychological Science in the Public Interest

Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S.

2012 Online dating sites frequently claim that they have fundamentally altered the dating landscape for the better. This article employs psychological science to examine (a) whether online dating is fundamentally different from conventional offline dating and (b) whether online dating promotes better romantic outcomes than conventional offline dating. The answer to the first question (uniqueness) is yes, and the answer to the second question (superiority) is yes and no.

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