Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada

Dr. Colleen Murray
Professor, Department of Sociology

Adjunct Professor, Human Development & Family Studies

Ph.D. in Family Relations and Human Development, The Ohio State University

M.A. & B.S., University of Akron

My current scholarly activities follow three lines of interest. First, consistent with a long-standing research interest in grief and loss in families, especially of adolescents and/or bereaved parents, our research team is studying the intersection (or “dance”) between post traumatic stress and post traumatic growth of bereaved parents and bereaved university students, using both standard instruments and an examination of narratives. In addition, we have collected survey data from a national sample of bereaved parents and adolescent siblings regarding relationships, expectations, communication, and life experiences in these families. Another grief-related project involves the analysis of historic newspapers for the reporting of mass tragedies (e.g., the sinking of the Titanic and Lusitania, San Francisco earthquake, and Chicago fire) and its relationship to 20th/21st century theories of grief.

A second line of activity involves the use of theory (or integration of seemingly un-related theories) in the study of families. In particular, I am interested in exploring the use of chaos theory, social construction, terror management, and feminist theories as they relate to issues of adolescence, bereavement or intimate relationships. In addition, I am interested in questions underlying the application of “western” theories to families in other cultures.

A third area involves the integration of the social psychology of justice/law with issues of health and/or with the developmental social psychology of adolescence – with attention to the contextual factors of personal relationships, culture and gender. In addition to supervising several doctoral students’ projects in these integrative areas, my work includes triadic data collected via telephone from 14-16 year old females, their parents and peers with a focus is on the interrelationships between/among risk behaviors, environment and personal risk and protective factors, and developmental aspects in the adolescent's life. In addition, I have been examining media’s (i.e., teen “girl” magazines) meanings and messages given to adolescents in the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan.

Selected Publications (selected examples):

  • Murray, C.I., Toth, K., Larsen, B.L., & Moulton, S. (forthcoming). Death, dying, and grief in families. In S. J. Price, C. Price and P.C. McKenry (posthumously). Families and change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Merlino, M., Murray, C.I., & Richardson, J.T. (2008). Judicial gatekeeping and the social construction of the admissibility of expert testimony. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 26, 187-206.
  • Gilbert, K., & Murray, C.I. (2007). The family, larger systems and death education (pp. 345-354). In D Balk et al (Eds.) Handbook on thanatology, Northbrook, IL: Association for Death Education and Counseling.
  • Toth, K., Murray, C., & Weigel, D. (2006). Gender differences in the intergenerational transmission of relational commitment. Australian Journal of Psychology, 221-222. [Extended version in Ross B. Wilkinson & Z. Pearce (Eds.) Relationships – Near and Far: Proceedings of the 6th annual conference of Australian Psychological Society, Psychology of Relationships Interest Group, 108-114. Melbourne, Australia]
  • Murray, C.I., & Kimura, N. (2006). Families in Japan. (pp. 291-310) In B.B. Ingoldsby & S.D. Smith (Eds.) Families in global and multicultural perspective. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Murray, C.I., Toth, K., & Clinkinbeard, S. (2005). Death, dying and grief. (pp. 750102). In P.C. McKenry and S. Price (Eds.) Families and change: Coping with stressful events. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Murray, C.I., Finholm, M., Toth, K., & Pettis, C.T. (2005). Post traumatic growth and terror management theory as a framework for exploring meaning construction in families with loss. (pp. 9-34). Proceedings of the Theory Construction and Research Methodology Preconference of the National Council on Family Relations. Phoenix, AZ: NCFR.
  • Murray, C.I., & Gilbert, K. (2005). River of grief: Hearing parents and siblings following child death. (pp. 436-439 & 443-445). In V. Bengtson, A. Acock, K. Allen, D. Klein, et al (Eds.) Sourcebook of family theory and methods (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Murray, C.I., & Kimura, N. (2003). The multiplicity of paths to couple formation in Japan. (pp. 247-268) R.R. Hamon & B.B. Ingoldsby (Eds.) Couple formation across cultures. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Murray, C.I., & Weigel, D.J. (2002). Integrating social constructionism and chaos theory: A dynamic framework for exploring commitment in coupled relationships. (pp. 105-139). Proceedings of the Theory Construction and Research Methodology Preconference of the National Council on Family Relations. Vancouver, BC, CA: NCFR.
  • Baber, K.M. & Murray, C.I. (2001) A postmodern feminist approach to teaching human sexuality. Family Relations, 50, 23-33.
  • Murray, C.I. (2000) Coping with death, dying and grief in families. (pp. 120-153) In P.C. McKenry and S. Price (Eds.), Families and change: coping with stressful events (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage.
  • Weigel, D. & Murray, C.I. (2000). The paradox of stability and change in relationships: What does chaos theory offer for the study of romantic relationships? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 17, 425-449.
  • Essa, E., & Murray, C.I. (1999). Sexual play: when should you become concerned? Childhood Education, 75, 231-234.
  • Kimura, N., & Murray, C.I. (1998). Cultural archetypes of adolescent females in human relationships in teen magazines in Japan and the United States. Journal of Selected Papers in Asian Studies, 1, 153-160.
  • Crosbie-Burnett, M., Foster, T.L., Murray, C.I., & Bowen, G.L. (1996). Gays' and lesbians' families or origin: A social-cognitive-behavioral model of adjustment. Family Relations, 45, 397-403.
  • Essa, E.L., Murray, C.I., & Everts, J. (1995). Death of a friend. Childhood Education, 71, 130-133. [Reprinted in Annual Editions: Death, dying and bereavement. Guilford, CT: Dushkin.]
  • Murray, C.I. (1994). Death, dying, and bereavement. (pp. 175-194) In P.C. McKenry and S. Price (Eds.), Families and changes: Coping with stressful events. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Murray, C.I., & Leigh, G.K. (1994). Families and sexuality. (pp. 186-204) In R.D. Day, K.R. Gilbert, B.H. Settles, and W.R. Burr (Eds.), Research and theory in family science. New York, NY: Brooks/Cole.
  • Essa, E.L., & Murray, C.I. (1994). Research in review: Young children's understanding and experience with death. Young Children, 49:74-81.
  • Leigh, G.K., & Murray, C.I. (1994). Adolescents, AIDS and other STDs. (pp. 24-25) In P. McKenry and S. Gavazzi (Eds.), Visions 2010: Families and adolescents. Minneapolis, MN: National Council on Family Relations.
  • Murray, C.I., (1993). Enhancing family science research through the inclusion of feminist principles. Family Science Review, 4:145-163. Murray, C.I. (1991). Misuse of linear models in the study of families. Family Science Review, 4:145-163.
  • Murray, C.I., Sullivan, A.M., Brophy, D.R., & Mailhot, M. (1991). Working with parents of spinal cord injured adolescents: A family systems perspective. Child and Adolescent Social Work, 8:225-238.

Funded Research:
Research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, University of Nevada International Activities Program, Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, State of Nevada Department of Education, and State of Nevada Office of Community Services.

Recent PhDs Awarded:
Toth, Katalin. (2008). Division of Domestic Labor and Marital Satisfaction: A Cross-Cultural Analysis.

Clinkinbeard, Samantha Smith (2007). Social Feedback Perceptions, Self-Efficacy, and Possible Selves among Adolescent Offenders in Secured Juvenile Facilities

Merlino, Mara (2005). The Social Construction of the Admissibility of Expert Testimony after Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Supported by Dissertation Research Grant from the National Science Foundation.

Contact Info:
You can e-mail Dr. Murray at