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 a former associate editor for the Journal of Family Psychology. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, and composing and performing music (his music websites are located at and

Academic Interests and Research

Dr. Sanford's research interests include: (a) studies of married couples and other close interpersonal relationships, (b) the development and validation of assessment instruments, (c) use of the Internet in assessment and clinical work, and (d) use of statistical methodology to analyze dyadic data and model processes involving change over time.

Dr. Sanford developed two Internet-based programs for couples that provide on-line assessments and feedback to participants and collect data for ongoing research. One program is called and it is designed to help couples build strong skills in communication and conflict resolution. The other program is called "Parting Parent" (located at, and it is designed to help parents who are going through a separation or divorce establish plans for co-parenting their children.

Some studies in Dr. Sanford's lab focus on the development and validation of assessment instruments for use with couples. These have included instruments assessing two types of underlying concern that people experience during conflicts (perceived threat and perceived neglect), three types of negative emotion (hard emotion, soft emotion, and flat emotion), four types of conflict communication (adversarial engagement, collaborative engagement, withdrawal, and passive immobility), two types of cognitive appraisal (blaming attributions, and negative expectations), and also scales measuring several different perceptions and concerns experienced by divorcing parents.

Dr. Sanford is currently conducting a series of studies investigating couple resiliency. Couple resiliency is defined as the extent to which a couple's relationship has characteristics that help each member adapt and maintain high wellbeing during stressful life situations. Recent studies have investigated resiliency in a range of different populations, from parents who have a child with a medical condition to firefighters.

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, Internet methodology, and statistical analysis) 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 admitted to Dr. Sanford's lab typically have noteworthy previous research experience. Applicants specifically interested in working with Dr. Sanford are advised to state this in their application materials.

Recent Publications

(*Indicates student co-authors)

*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.

Sanford, K. (2009). Conflict measurement and assessment. In H. T. Reis & S. Sprecher (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Human Relationships. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sanford, K. (2007). The Couples Emotion Rating Form: Psychometric properties and theoretical associations. Psychological Assessment, 19, 411-421.

Sanford, K. (2007). Hard and soft emotion during conflict: Investigating married couples and other relationships. Personal Relationships, 14, 65-90.

Sanford, K. (2006). Communication during marital conflict: When couples alter their appraisal, they change their behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 256-265.

Sanford, K. (2005). Attributions and anger in early marriage: Wives are event-dependent and husbands are schematic. Journal of Family Psychology, 19, 180-188.

Recent Graduates

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.
Sherin Paul, Psy.D.
Elizabeth Coe, Psy.D.

Current Graduate Students

Priscilla Layman
Amanda Proctor
Kiley Schneider
Brittany Sherrill
Shelby Rivers
Mona Clifton

Courses taught at Baylor

  • PSY 4400 - Advanced Statistics
  • PSY 5302 - Measurement in Psychology
  • PSY 5344 - History and Systems
  • PSY 5391 - Multilevel Modeling