Research

WHIRL research focuses on uncovering the social cognitive, affective, and biological factors that shape our closest relationships. For example, we study the benefits of prosocial cognitions, emotions, and behaviors (e.g., perspective-taking, gratitude, responsiveness), as well as how these prosocial processes are affected by internal and external forces. In particular, we focus on the ways in which unseen influences from biological dysregulation (e.g. lack of sleep, hunger, illness) to external stressors (e.g., time pressure, work stress) shape prosocial processes and relationship functioning.

Our social interactions are, by definition, social; yet, much social psychological research focuses solely on the individual. In the Well-being, Health, and Interpersonal Relationships Lab, we take a dyadic perspective. We go beyond people’s own experiences to examine how they are affected by their partner’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors and physiological responses, as well as by their perceptions and expectations of their relationship partners. An important component of our research is exploring how people influence each other both in the moment and over time. We also explore distinctively dyadic outcomes—how interactions are shaped not by each individual alone but by the unique ways in which people interact with each other.

Our research draws upon a variety of methods, including experimental, observational, naturalistic (e.g., daily experience), and physiological, to capture people at multiple levels in a variety of social situations.

The ultimate goal of research at WHIRL is to identify factors that help people maintain high quality relationships over time, enhancing health and well-being at the individual, dyadic, familial, and organizational levels.

Current projects include examining how sleep shapes romantic relationships, the role of gratitude in relationship quality, and understanding how couples navigate periods of time when both partners are experiencing stress.

Current Projects