Topics of Study

Supportive and satisfying relationships are among the most important factors contributing to our well-being. While we often seek to care and connect with others at a deeper level, we may do so in ways that at times help, and at other times hinder, our relationships and well-being. In our research, we seek to understand how caring and connecting with others through regulation, perception, and motivation shapes personal and relationship well-being.


Motivations in Relationships

In our relationships, we often have the challenge of balancing self-oriented goals to pursue personal benefits with other-oriented goals that support our relationship partners. Being other-oriented, such as having a communal motivation to care for others, can help build new relationships and foster existing ones. While motivations to care can bring us closer to others, it also makes us vulnerable to the potential risks of being hurt or exploited. In our lab, we seek to understand when the motivation to care for others is beneficial versus costly for our personal and relationship well-being.


Emotion Regulation and Perception

Another important component of well-being concerns how people regulate their emotions. Whether it is withholding anger from a spouse during an argument or exaggerating excitement in order to provide positive feedback to a child, our relationships require that we control both desired and undesired emotions. What is the right balance of authentic expression and emotion regulation? Further, how does the accurate–or inaccurate–perception of our relationship partners’ emotions impact well-being? In our lab, we seek to understand how the regulation and perception of emotions helps versus hurts relationships.


Interpersonal Relationships

We study a range of interpersonal relationships, with a specific focus on romantic and parent-child relationships.



Methods and Statistics in the Lab

We study relationships primarily through the use of survey methods. Surveys allow us to understand people’s subjective relationship experiences cross-sectionally, in daily life, and over time. We use a variety of statistical techniques to analyze the data we collect, including multiple regression and multilevel modeling. In addition, we use a few other advanced methodological and statistical techniques:



Daily experience studies allow us to capture people’s relationship experiences as they unfold naturally in day-to-day life.






Response surface analysis allows us to understand how the combination of each partner’s emotions (or motivations) predicts personal and relationship well-being.






Actor-Partner Interdependence Modeling allows us to understand how one person’s emotions (or motivations)–accounting for their partner’s emotions (or motivations)–can shape each person’s well-being.




Meta-analysis allows us to synthesize results from multiple studies to obtain a reliable and comprehensive estimate of an effect of interest.






We incorporateĀ open science practices into our work to facilitate transparency and replicability of our research.