Linda J. RobertsProfessor Emerit

Relationships create the fabric of our lives. My intellectual passion is to understand those invisible threads that exist between people and connect us person to person. Persons have meaning only in relationships. As David Kenny put it, “Individuals are fundamentally a fiction of perception and experience. What we call an individual is really a complex composite of relationships.” How do relationships work? What processes makes a relationship nourishing and growth producing? And how can we help people to thrive in relationships, particularly with intimate others?

Research, teaching, and outreach are each integral parts of my professional identity. I love to teach about relationships in the classroom and to develop and implement empirically-based educational programming to support family relationships, particularly through my role as a Cooperative Extension Specialist.

I received my PhD and MA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in clinical and community psychology and my BA from Carleton College in sociology and anthropology. I joined the UW–Madison faculty in 1994 after spending six years at the State University of New York-Buffalo and the New York State Research Institute on Addictions. I served as department chair from 2007-11, and since 2006 I have held an appointment with Family Living Programs Cooperative Extension in the area of healthy couple relationships. My research, teaching, and outreach efforts focus on couple relationships, particularly as they intersect with health issues, including unplanned pregnancies, unwanted sexual experiences, violence, cancer, and alcohol use and abuse. In addition to conducting basic research on couple relationships, I am developing empirically-based educational programming designed to promote healthy behavioral choices in intimate relationships. I am a former Ecology of Human Well-Being Professor and Rothermel-Bascom Professor of Human Ecology.


Conflict and Intimacy Processes: I initially studied conflict and violence in intimate relationships but now focus primarily on positive interpersonal processes (e.g., intimacy, responsive caregiving, compassion). Whether I am studying emerging adults or partners facing the end of life together, I seek to provide understandings that will help make our relationships stronger, safer, and better.

Professor Linda Roberts, Ph.D.


  • Human Development & Family Studies


  • PhD and MA, Clinical and Community Psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • BA, Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton College


Office: 4103 Nancy Nicholas Hall