Dr Nickola Christine Overall


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Associate Professor » Psychology

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Nickola Overall is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology. Nickola has published over 50 articles and books, and she was recently awarded the Caryl Rusbult Close Relationships Early Career Award. She has also been the recipient of two teaching awards at the University of Auckland, and she is a dedicated supervisor.

Research | Current

My research primarily focuses on close relationships. Intimate relationships can have immense benefits for psychological and physical health, such as when support from close others protects individuals from stressful events. Intimate relationships can also undermine psychological and physical wellbeing, such as when people experience conflict in their relationship or face dissolution and divorce. My research explores both the benefits and costs of close relationships, with a particular emphasis on the relative success of different communication strategies used when couples are trying to resolve relationship problems or support each other. This includes identifying what strategies help couples maintain healthy relationships versus those that lead to dissatisfaction and relationship dissolution. I also examine how individual differences impact on relationship processes, such as how attachment security, rejection sensitivity, and sexist attitudes affect couples’ reactions to stressful personal and relationship events.

My primary methodological aim is to assess people’s relationship perceptions and behaviour as it matters in real-life. To achieve this, I combine various methodologies, including questionnaires, social interaction and daily diaries, behavioural observation, and longitudinal designs to track individual and relationship progress over time. I also employ a wide range of advanced statistical methods including Structural Equation Modelling and Multilevel Modelling techniques to analyse dyadic, diary and longitudinal data.

Teaching | Current

Nickola teaches social psychology in two undergraduate courses (PSYCH 204 and PSYCH 311), a postgraduate course (PSYCH 716), and has a large team of research students. For more information on working in the Close Relationships and Interpersonal Processes Lab click the link below and/or contact Nickola.

Read more about the Social Psychology Postgraduate Programme


  • Caryl Rusbult Close Relationships Early Career Award, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2014
  • Fellow, Society of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014
  • Dean's Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching, 2013
  • Identified as ‘Rising Star’, Association for Psychological Science, 2011
  • Fellow, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, 2010
  • University of Auckland Early Career Excellence Award, 2010

Areas of expertise

Social Psychology, Close Relationships, Interpersonal Influence, Communication, Conflict, Support, Attachment, Interpersonal Perceptions, Emotion Regulation

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Associate Editor, Social Psychological and Personality Science
  • Consulting Editor, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Personal Relationships, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Overall, N. C., & Simpson, J. A. (2014). Attachment and Dyadic Regulation Processes. Current Opinion in Psychology. 10.1016/j.copsyc.2014.11.008
  • Simpson, J. A., & Overall, N. C. (2014). Partner Buffering of Attachment Insecurity. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23 (1), 54-59. 10.1177/0963721413510933
  • Overall, N. C., Girme, Y. U., Lemay, E. P., & Hammond, M. D. (2014). Attachment anxiety and reactions to relationship threat: the benefits and costs of inducing guilt in romantic partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106 (2), 235-256. 10.1037/a0034371
  • Hammond, M. D., & Overall, N. C. (2013). Men's hostile sexism and biased perceptions of intimate partners: fostering dissatisfaction and negative behavior in close relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39 (12), 1585-1599. 10.1177/0146167213499026
  • Girme, Y. U., Overall, N. C., & Simpson, J. A. (2013). When visibility matters: short-term versus long-term costs and benefits of visible and invisible support. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39 (11), 1441-1454. 10.1177/0146167213497802
  • Campbell, L., Overall, N. C., Rubin, H., & Lackenbauer, S. D. (2013). Inferring a partner's ideal discrepancies: accuracy, projection, and the communicative role of interpersonal behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105 (2), 217-233. 10.1037/a0033009
  • Overall, N. C., Simpson, J. A., & Struthers, H. (2013). Buffering attachment-related avoidance: Softening emotional and behavioral defenses during conflict discussions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104 (5), 854-871. 10.1037/a0031798
  • Overall, N. C., & Hammond, M. D. (2013). Biased and accurate: depressive symptoms and daily perceptions within intimate relationships. Pers Soc Psychol Bull, 39 (5), 636-650. 10.1177/0146167213480188

Contact details

  • Media Contact

Primary location

Level 5, Room 201E-539
Auckland 1010
New Zealand