Howard Tennen, PhD

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Community Medicine, School of Medicine, UConn Health (Affiliate)

Research Overview

Howard Tennen studies the dynamics of stress and coping with a focus on (1) the interaction of psychological factors and processes with the course and outcomes of major medical problems and (2) stress and coping in relation to substance use. His research participants have included patients with chronic pain disorders, parents of acutely ill newborns, developmentally disabled children, chronically ill children, victims of heart attacks, taste and smell loss, and infertility; risky drinkers, and more recently, college student drinkers. These studies have revealed how people’s psychological responses to their own or loved ones’ medical problems influence morbidity, health, and well-being. During the past twenty years, Dr. Tennen has also examined day-to-day stresses and burdens of chronic illness, daily coping efforts, and short-term changes in physical symptoms. He has applied the same daily process methods to the study of risky alcohol use, including the investigation of genetic factors that predict daily drinking dynamics and genetic predictors of emotional reactivity in daily life.


Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, 1976 (clinical psychology)
M.S., University of Massachusetts, 1973 (clinical psychology)
B.S., Queens College, City University of New York, 1969

Recent Publications


Featured Publications

Tennen, H., Affleck, G., Armeli, S., & Carney, M.A. (2000). A daily process approach to coping: Linking theory, research and practice. American Psychologist, 55, 626-636.

Tennen, H., Affleck, G., & Zautra, A. (2006). Depression history and coping with chronic pain: A daily process analysis. Health Psychology, 25, 370-379.

Conner, T., Tennen, H., Zautra, A., Affleck, G., Armeli, S., & Fifield, J. (2006). Coping with rheumatoid arthritis pain in daily life: Within-person analyses reveal hidden vulnerability for the formerly depressed. Pain, 126, 198-209.

Tennen, H., Affleck, G., Coyne, J.C., Larsen, R.J., & DeLongis, A. (2006). Paper and plastic in daily diary research. Psychological Methods 11, 112-118.

Covault, J., Tennen, H., Herman, A.I., Armeli, S., Conner, T., Cillessen, A.H.N., & Kranzler, H.R. (2007) The interactive effect of the serotonin transporter 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and stressful life events on college student drinking and drug use. Biological Psychiatry, 61, 609-616.

Stanton, A.L., Revenson, T.A., & Tennen, H. (2007). Health psychology: Psychological adjustment to chronic disease. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 565-592.

Gunthert, K.C., Conner, T.S., Armeli, S., Tennen, H., Covault, J., & Kranzler, H.R. (2007). The serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and anxiety reactivity in daily life: A daily process approach to gene-environment interaction. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 762-768.

Kiene, S.M., Tennen, H., & Armeli, S. (2008). Today I’ll use a condom, but who knows about tomorrow: A daily process study of variability in predictors of condom use behavior. Health Psychology, 27,463-472.

Frazier, P., Tennen, H., Gavian, M., Park, C., Tomich, P, & Tashiro, T. (2009). Does self-reported post-traumatic growth reflect genuine positive change? Psychological Science, 20, 912-919.

Coyne, J.C. & Tennen, H. (2010). Positive psychology in cancer care: Bad science, exaggerated claims and unproven medicine. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39, 16-26.

Finan, P.H., Zautra, A.J., Davis, M.C., Chalfant, K.L., Covault, J., & Tennen, H. (2010). Genetic influences on the dynamics of pain and affect in fibromyalgia. Health Psychology, 29, 134-142.

Finan, P.H., Tennen, H., Zautra, A.J., & Davis, M.C. (2012). Ambulatory monitoring in the genetics of chronic pain: Applications for naturalistic phenotypic measurement. Psychosomatic Medicine, 74, 349-355.

Kranzler, H.R., Scott, D. Tennen, H., Feinn, R., Williams, C., Armeli, S., Taylor, R.E., Briggs-Gowan, M.J., and Covault, J. (2012). The 5-HTTLPR Polymorphism Moderates the Effect of Stressful Life Events on Drinking Behavior in College Students of African Descent. Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 159B, 484-490.

O’Hara, R.E., Armeli, S., Boynton, M., & Tennen, H. (2014). Emotional stress-reactivity and positive affect among college students: The role of depression history. Emotion, 14, 193-202.

Karoly, P., Okun, M.A., Enders, C., & Tennen, H. (in press). Daily pursuit of work- and lifestyle goals in the context of chronic pain: Modeling the effects of goal schemas and pain intensity. Health Psychology.


Contact Information
Mailing AddressUniversity of Connecticut Health Center
Department of Community Medicine
263 Farmington Avenue, MC 6325
Farmington, CT 06030-6325