Raquael J. Joiner PhD (she/her)
Assistant Professor of Research
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Raquael Joiner is a Research Assistant Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at USC. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology with an Advanced Quantitative Social Science Minor from the University of Notre Dame in August 2020, and thereafter, she joined the UCLA Marriage and Close Relationships Lab as a Postdoctoral Scholar. Dr. Joiner’s work has been published in high-impact scientific outlets such as American Psychologist and Psychology and Aging. Dr. Joiner’s research broadly focuses on theories and methods (i.e., research designs and statistical models) involved in the study of change across different timescales (e.g., days, years). She specifically applies these theories and methods to understand how people and relationships change, with the goal of harnessing the power of change to promote the health and well-being of a diverse aging population. Dr. Joiner enjoys fostering collaborative, multidisciplinary research teams to advance her research agenda, and as a first-generation college graduate from a low-income, single parent headed household, she is committed to providing positive learning environments that support diverse, underrepresented junior scholars in the sciences.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
in Developmental Psychology with Advanced Quantitative Social Sciences Minor
2020 | University of Notre Dame
Master of Arts (MA)
in Developmental Psychology
2018 | University of Notre Dame
Bachelor of Science (magna cum laude) (BS)
2013 | Arizona State University
Liu, Q., Joiner, R. J., Trichtinger, L. A., Tran, T., & Cole, D. A. (2023). Dissecting the depressed mood criterion in adult depression: The heterogeneity of mood disturbances in major depressive episodes. Journal of Affective Disorders, 323, 392-399. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2022.11.047 Show abstract
Background. Mood disturbances have historically remained a core criterion in diagnosing major depressive episode. DSMs have illustrated this criterion with depressed, hopeless, discouraged, cheerless, and irritable mood, suggesting interchangeability. Extant research has examined individual forms of mood disturbance to depression severity. Less examined is the heterogeneity in mood disturbances and its implication to their association to depression presentations and outcomes.
Method. The current study used a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults with unipolar major depressive disorder to study the association between specific forms of mood disturbances to depression severity, chronicity, or symptoms, above and beyond other forms, as well as their relations to functional impairment, suicidal outcomes, and psychiatric comorbidity via generalized linear models.
Results. Cheerless and hopeless mood were associated with depression severity. Hopeless and irritable mood were associated with depression chronicity. Different forms of mood disturbance showed differential relations to depressive symptoms. Cheerless, hopeless, and irritable mood were associated with depression-specific functional interference, incremental to depression severity. Cheerless, hopeless, and discouraged mood were associated with passive suicidal ideation. Hopeless mood was associated with active suicidal ideation. Hopeless and irritable mood were associated with both suicide plan and suicide attempt. Different forms of mood disturbance demonstrated differential associations to comorbid psychiatric conditions.
Discussion. The relations between different forms of mood disturbances and various aspects of depression are nuanced. Theoretically, these relations highlight the potential utility in acknowledging the complexity and heterogeneity in mood disturbances. Clinically, our results suggest potential utility in routinely monitoring mood disturbances.
Keywords. Mood; Depression; Irritability; Hopelessness; Classification
Joiner, R. J., Bradbury, T. N., Lavner, J. A., Meltzer, A. L., McNulty, J. K., Neff, L. A., & Karney, B. R. (2023). Are changes in marital satisfaction sustained and steady, or sporadic and dramatic? American Psychologist. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0001207 Show abstract
Although prominent theories of intimate relationships, and couples themselves, often conceive of relationships as fluctuating widely in their degree of closeness, longitudinal studies generally describe partners’ satisfaction as stable and continuous or as steadily declining over time. The increasing use of group-based trajectory models (GBTMs) to identify distinct classes of change has reinforced this characterization, but these models fail to account for individual differences within classes and within-person variability across classes and may thus misrepresent how couples’ satisfaction changes. The goal of the current analyses was to determine whether accounting for these additional sources of variance through growth mixture models (GMMs) alters characterizations of satisfaction changes over time. Applied to longitudinal data from 12 independent studies of first-married couples (combined N = 1,249 couples), GMMs that allowed for class-specific individual differences and within-person variability fit the data better than the GBTMs that constrained these to be equal across classes. Most notably, considerable within-person variability was evident within each class, consistent with the idea that spouses do indeed fluctuate in their satisfaction. Spouses who dissolved their marriages were 3.8–5.7 times more likely to be in classes characterized by greater volatility in satisfaction. Because the early years of marriage appear to be characterized by within-person fluctuations in satisfaction, time-varying correlates of these fluctuations are likely to be at least as important as time-invariant correlates in explaining why some marriages thrive where others falter. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved)
Joiner, R. J., Martinez, B. S., Nelson, N. A., & Bergeman, C. S. (2022). Within-person changes in religiosity, control beliefs, and subjective well-being across middle and late adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 37(7), 848–862. https://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000713 Show abstract
Given the well-established link between control beliefs and well-being, researchers have turned their attention to characterizing mechanisms that help foster this relationship across the second half of life. Cross-sectional, empirical work has identified a mediating relationship among religiosity and spirituality (R/S), control beliefs, and subjective well-being, such that individuals with higher R/S show higher subjective well-being that is mediated by between-person differences in perceived control. Empirical tests of between-person differences, however, may not represent within-person associations. As such, the present study utilized longitudinal data from the Notre Dame Study of Health & Well-being (NDHWB; N = 1,017) to examine concurrent, within-person associations among three R/S dimensions (i.e., religious coping, religious practices, and spirituality), control beliefs, and subjective well-being. Results from our Bayesian multilevel mediation analyses showed significant within-person associations among these constructs, suggesting potential bidirectionality and circularity in these processes. Cross-sectional age differences and time significantly moderated these associations. In terms of age differences, younger, compared to older, individuals showed stronger positive associations among religious coping and spirituality, control beliefs, and subjective well-being and more negative associations among religious practices, control beliefs, and subjective well-being. Contrarily, the effect of time implied that the relationships among religious coping and spirituality, control beliefs, and subjective well-being became more positive across time. Given this disjunction and that the moderating effect of cross-sectional age by time was not significant, cross-sectional age differences in these relationships likely reflect generational differences in the associations among R/S, control beliefs, and subjective well-being.
Bergeman, C. S., Blaxton, J., & Joiner, R. (2021). Dynamic systems, contextual influences, and multiple timescales: Emotion regulation as a resilience resource. The Gerontologist, 61(3), 304–311. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnaa046 Show abstract
We need to understand how psychosocial resources develop, identify the influences that threaten their maintenance, detect the circumstances under which these resources are used, and elucidate the factors that support and promote their growth. Three important components to studying the development of resilience include its dynamic nature, context, and timescale of measurement. Dynamic systems (DS) approaches focus on physiological and psychological structures underling the development of resilience by explicitly mapping parameters of change onto their corresponding aspects of functioning. Previous research has captured emotion regulation within individuals, across traits, and in close personal relationships to show how these methods depict dynamic regulation/resilience resources and their influence on outcomes of interest. The use of multi-time scaled data informs how daily emotion regulation is disrupted in the context of stress to produce dysregulation and disease later in the life course. This approach can also reveal how resilience resources counteract these adverse processes and allow others to thrive and be well. Researchers must not only explore short-term variation in constructs of interest, but also explore how these shorter-term fluctuations contribute to longer-term changes. The confluence of DS, contextual influences, and multiple timescales provides an important set of tools to better understand development.
Keywords. Methods, Psychosocial influences, Successful aging
Joiner, R. J., Bergeman, C. S., & Wang, L. (2018). Affective experience across the adult lifespan: An accelerated longitudinal design. Psychology and Aging, 33(3), 399–412. https://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000257 Show abstract
Recent research investigating the course of affective development across the adult life span has incorporated both cross-sectional and longitudinal data in analyses to understand the aging-affect relationship. Most of these studies, however, have not provided an empirical test to determine whether the cross-sectional and longitudinal data can be combined to infer developmental processes. Utilizing an age heterogeneous sample followed over a 10-year span (N = 1,019, Mage = 54.14 ± 13.06), the present study used an accelerated longitudinal design to investigate whether cross-sectional age differences could be found in longitudinal aging trajectories of positive affect (PA), negative affect (NA), and their confluence (i.e., affect optimization, the experience of PA relative to NA). Additionally, age-related differences in poignancy, co-occurrences of PA and NA, were examined. Absence of cross-sectional age-differences in the estimated longitudinal aging trajectories of PA and affect optimization suggested that a developmental process could be inferred; whereas, the longitudinal aging trajectories for NA showed cross-sectional age differences. PA and affect optimization showed a cubic relationship with age; NA showed decreases across adulthood; and poignancy showed age-related increases across adulthood. Self-rated health was investigated as a covariate in all models. Though somewhat more nuanced, the estimated trajectories for PA, NA, affect optimization, and poignancy provided support for theories of affective aging. The implications of these findings, directions for future research, and issues surrounding using cross-sectional data to infer developmental change are discussed.
Bergeman, C. S., Joiner, R. J., & Blaxton, J. (2018). Behavior genetics. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development. Sage. Full text
Best Paper by a Postdoctoral Scholar | 2023
University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Psychology
Small Grant Award | 2022
Marriage Strengthening Research & Dissemination Center
Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching Award | 2020
University of Notre Dame, Department of Psychology