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Olivia Atherton, Ph.D.

Professor Atherton

Assistant Professor
Director of the Personality, Contexts, and Health Lab
Social, Personality, & Health Psychology
Ph.D., University of California Davis

Office: Heyne Building, Room 229D
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Dr. Atherton will be reviewing graduate student applications for the 2023-2024 academic year. Application deadline is Dec 1, 2022. Please see Admissions and Student Funding & Benefits Information for more details.

Biographical Summary

Dr. Atherton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston. Before joining UH, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She received her PhD in Social-Personality Psychology at the University of California Davis, and her BS in Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Atherton’s research program lies at the intersection of social-personality, health, and developmental psychology. The central focus of her work is on how, when, and why socio-structural contexts and personality traits impact mental and physical health across the lifespan To answer these questions, she typically uses large longitudinal studies with data spanning multiple developmental periods (i.e., childhood through old age) and generations (i.e., family studies), in combination with diverse samples and multi-method measurement (e.g., self- and informant-reports, administrative records). Dr. Atherton also has expertise in various statistical techniques including coordinated data analysis, structural equation modeling, and multilevel modeling.


  • B.S. Psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2013
  • Ph.D. Psychology, University of California Davis, 2020

Research Interests

  • temperament and personality
  • socio-structural contexts
  • health behaviors
  • mental and physical health
  • lifespan development


  • Health Psychology
  • Personality Psychology


A full list of Dr. Atherton's published work can be found her Google Scholar page