Breaking up is hard to do, but so is staying in a relationship. If you’re not second-guessing yourself, you have a hundred questions without any easy answers, at least, not until now. CU Denver Psychology Instructor Kayla Knopp, MA, had some questions about relationships, and she turned to research to find the answers.

CU Denver Instructor Kayla Knopp
Kayla Knopp

In her study, Knopp tackles the old adage “once a cheater, always a cheater,” finding that there is evidence to suggest that previous infidelity does predict infidelity in future relationships. She also found evidence that people who have experienced infidelity in one relationship might be more at risk to have unfaithful partners again in the future.

Her work at CU Denver also takes a closer look at how “defining the relationship” impacts teens’ decisions about sexual timing. “One finding suggests that teens in more committed relationships may feel more able to assert sexual agency without feeling coerced by partners,” says Knopp.

As long as there are relationships, there will be questions about what makes them work (and what doesn’t!). While Knopp is passionate about answering those questions in her research, CU Denver Today posed a few other questions – about the person behind the researcher. Here are Knopp’s answers:

Where does the passion/inspiration for your work come from? Is it why you entered your field?

Researcher SpotlightI’ve always been fascinated by people’s romantic relationships – I am a little obsessed with love and sex advice columns. Relationship problems are very common and have a huge impact on people’s quality of life, but most people don’t ever have the opportunity to get help with those problems or to hear about some of the research that could help them make better decisions. I am passionate about using research and research-based clinical interventions to help people with their love lives.

What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were entering grad school?

Grad school takes up a lot of time and energy, so I wish I had known more about how to better prepare. In particular, I wish I had done a better job of preparing my friends and family for different expectations about how much free time I would have over the next six years.

What is your research/teaching philosophy? 

In my research, I seek to use scientific methods to understand phenomena that people are interested in during their everyday lives. For example, my research on serial infidelity was inspired by the fact that we have a common cultural saying – “once a cheater, always a cheater” – that had no basis in scientific fact (yet). My research on the “defining-the-relationship” talk in young couples’ romantic relationships has similar inspiration.

If you were not a professor/lecturer, what would you be?

I’ve always dreamed of opening a café serving sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. I love to cook, and who doesn’t love a good sandwich?

What is your favorite non-academic reading/interests?

Love and sex advice columns and podcasts! I am a huge fan of the “Savage Lovecast,” “Dear Prudence,” “Dear Sugar,” and “Modern Love” (to name just a few).

What was your first concert? 

Backstreet Boys, 2000.

Where have you lived outside of Colorado?

Nowhere, yet. I’m a Colorado native and could never bring myself to leave… it’s pretty great here. But I’ll be moving soon for my clinical internship to finish my doctoral training, hopefully to the West Coast. I’m excited to experience someplace new.

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