Keith P. Sanford, Ph.D.

Keith P. Sanford, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology (Core Clinical Faculty)
High Res Photo

Professor of Psychology


Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2000

M.A., Michigan State University, 1996

B.A., Seattle Pacific University, 1993


Dr. Sanford joined the Baylor faculty in 2000. Prior to coming to Baylor, he earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Michigan State University, and he earned his B.A. in psychology, with a second major in religion, from Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Sanford is a licensed psychologist in the state of Texas, and he is on the editorial board of Journal of Family Psychology and Family Process. Outside of academic work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, and composing and recording music (his personal music website, which includes songs about history and social justice, is located at

Academic Interests and Research

Dr. Sanford's research interests include three components: (a) couples and interpersonal relationships, (b) the development and validation of assessment instruments, and (c) behavioral medicine. He combines these three components in a line of work that involves developing instruments to assess important aspects of interpersonal relationships (such as social support), developing instruments to assess important outcomes in behavioral medicine (such as adherence to medical treatment plans), and then investigating the connections between these variables (for example, does social support increase treatment adherence?).  This line of work often involves the use of advanced statistical methods to validate assessment instruments and to test theoretical models.     

To provide a few examples of Dr. Sanford’s research, one ongoing project focuses on women breast cancer survivors taking adjuvant hormone therapy. This project is investigating the ways in which interpersonal relationships with support persons and with doctors may influence a woman’s attitudes and feelings about her treatment decisions. Another recent study investigated physician relationships with patients, and physician relationships with parents of child patients at a children’s hospital. Dr. Sanford has also conducted recent studies investigating interpersonal predictors of treatment adherence for people with diabetes and hypertension. In addition, Dr. Sanford has a long line of research investigating couples which includes work on couples’ conflict resolution, divorce, predictors of relationship satisfaction, and resilience in couples facing stressful life situations.

A large portion of Dr. Sanford’s work involves the development and psychometric validation of assessment instruments.  To investigate research questions regarding interpersonal relationships and behavioral medicine, it is essential to ask people questions about their own experiences, but it can be especially difficult to ask questions in a way that elicits meaningful and informative responses from people. This issue is crucial because research will only lead to valuable discoveries when it is built on a foundation of valid and meaningful assessment.  Dr. Sanford specializes in using psychometric techniques to develop assessment instruments that have high validity.

Some of the assessment instruments that Dr. Sanford developed and validated include:

  • Treatment Adherence Perceptions Questionnaire
  • Medical Consultation Experience Questionnaire
  • Parting Parent Concern Inventory
  • Couple Resilience Inventory
  • Couples Underlying Concern Inventory
  • Couples Emotion Rating Form
  • Conflict Communication Inventory
  • Conflict Disengagement Inventory
  • Context-Specific Attribution Scale

Information for prospective graduate students

Dr. Sanford's research lab includes students in both clinical psychology and social psychology. His line of research (on interpersonal relationships, validation of assessment instruments, and behavioral medicine) focuses on foundational topics that have broad application across almost all areas of clinical work and research on human wellbeing. Thus, graduates from Dr. Sanford's lab have gone on to pursue a wide range of clinical and academic specialty areas. Students applying to Dr. Sanford’s lab do not necessarily need to have extensive experience in the specific topic areas of his research, but students admitted to his lab typically do have noteworthy previous experience with research and data analysis.   

Sample Recent Publications

(*Indicates student co-authors)

Sanford, K., *Rivers, A. S., Braun, T. L., Schultz, K. P., & Buchanan, E. P. (2018) Medical Consultation Experience Questionnaire: Assessing Perceived Alliance and Experienced Confusion during Medical Consultations. Psychological Assessment, 30, 1499-1511.  

*Rivers, A. S., & Sanford, K. (2018).  Negative relationship behavior is more important than positive: Correlates of outcomes during stressful life events.  Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 375-384. 

*Backer-Fulghum, L. M., *Anders, C., & Sanford, K. (2018). Assessing Context-specific Attributions During Couples’ Conflict Interactions. Assessment, 25, 801-812.

Sanford, K., & *Rivers, A. S. (2017). The Parting Parent Concern Inventory: Parents’ appraisals correlate with divorced family functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 31, 867-877.

Sanford, K., Kruse, M. I., *Proctor, A., Torres, V. A., Pennington, M. L., Synett, S. J., & Gulliver, S. B. (2017). Couple Resilience and Life Wellbeing in Firefighters.  Journal of Positive Psychology, 12, 660-666. 

Sanford, K., *Backer-Fulghum, L. M., & *Carson, C. (2016). Couple Resilience Inventory: Two dimensions of naturally occurring relationship behavior during stressful life events.  Psychological Assessment, 28, 1243-1254.

*Backer-Fulghum, L. M., & Sanford, K (2015). The validity of retrospectively reported conflict interactions in couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 29, 253-262.

*Nichols, N.B., *Backer-Fulghum, L. M., *Boska, C. R., & Sanford, K. (2015). Two Types of Disengagement during Couples' Conflicts: Withdrawal and Passive Immobility. Psychological Assessment, 27, 203-214.

Sanford, K. (2014). A latent change score model of conflict resolution in couples: Are negative behaviors bad, benign, or beneficial? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 31, 1068-1088.

Sanford, K., & *Wolfe, K. L. (2013). What married couples want from each other during conflicts: An investigation of underlying concerns. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 32, 674-699.

Sanford, K. (2012). The communication of emotion during conflict in married couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 297-307.

Sanford, K., & *Grace, A. J. (2011). Emotion and underlying concerns during couples' conflict: An investigation of within-person change. Personal Relationships, 18, 96 - 109.

Sanford, K. (2010). Perceived threat and perceived neglect: Couples' underlying concerns during conflict. Psychological Assessment, 22, 288 - 297.

Sanford, K. (2010). Assessing conflict communication in couples: Comparing the validity of self-report, partner-report, and observer ratings. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 165-174.

Recent Graduates

Shelby Rivers, Ph.D.
Amanda Proctor, Psy.D.
Priscilla Layman, Psy.D.
Elizabeth Coe, Psy.D.
Cecily Anders, Psy.D.
Lindsey M. Backer-Fulghum, Ph.D.
Natalie Nichols, Psy.D.
Chelsea Boska, Psy.D.
Kara Emery, Psy.D.
Kristi Wolfe, Psy.D.

Current Graduate Students

Kiley Schneider
Brittany Sherrill
Allie Pizzuto
Mona Clifton
Ashley Buchanan Nguyen

Courses taught at Baylor

  • PSY 4400 - Advanced Statistics (undergraduate)
  • PSY 5388 - Advanced Statistics (graduate)
  • PSY 5302 - Measurement in Psychology
  • PSY 5344 - History and Systems
  • PSY 5391 - Multilevel Modeling