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Olivia Atherton, Ph.D.

Professor Atherton

Assistant Professor
Director of the Self-Regulation, 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 2024-2025 academic year. Application deadline is Dec 1, 2023. Please see Admissions and Student Funding & Benefits Information for more details.

Biographical Summary

Dr. Olivia 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 from the University of California Davis, and her BS in Psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Atherton’s research program lies at the intersection of social-personality, health, and developmental psychology. The focus of her work revolves around three overarching questions: 1) how do self-regulatory traits develop across the lifespan from early life to old age?; 2) what are the sociocultural factors that predict self-regulation development?; and 3) how do self-regulatory traits impact mental and physical health with age? To answer these questions, Dr. Atherton typically uses large longitudinal studies with data spanning multiple developmental periods and generations (i.e., family studies), in combination with diverse samples and multi-method measurement (e.g., self- and informant-reports, administrative records). She also has expertise in statistical techniques including structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling, survival analysis, and coordinated data analysis.


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

Research Interests

  • self-regulation
  • temperament and personality
  • sociocultural 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