Research Areas

Research in the GERE (Goals, Emotions, and Relationship Experiences) Lab spans multiple topics and areas of research, intersecting personality psychology, social psychology, and sometimes even health psychology. Broadly speaking, I am interested in well-being and have focused on areas of research that have been identified as important for facilitating well-being. As a result, my primary areas of research focus on goal pursuit and romantic relationships.

GOAL PURSUIT

One important predictor of high levels of well-being is goal pursuit. People who are able to make more progress toward their personally meaningful goals have higher levels of subjective well-being, indicated by higher positive affect, lower negative affect, and higher life satisfaction. My research focuses on predictors of goal progress, with a focus on how romantic relationship partners influence goal pursuit processes. For example, my lab has investigated factors such as partner social influence, partner instrumentality, conflict between partners' goals, social support and their influence on goal pursuit processes (e.g., goal progress, goal importance) and well-being indicators (relationship and personal well-being). I'm interested in all types of personal goals and most often don't focus on a specific type of goal (I study whatever goals people happen to pursue!). In more recent work, I have also been interested in individual predictors of goal pursuit, such as motivation, self-control, and mindfulness. To study goal processes, my research approach most often relies on daliy diary studies, experience sampling, and/or longitudinal methods.

ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS

The quality of people's romantic relationships is a strong predictor of both physical health and subjective well-being. However, relationsips are challenging to navigate and difficulties often emerge, especially over time. My research has examined various factors that influence the quality of romantic relationships. Here are a few topics that I am most interested in exploring: 

1) People often expect their relationship partner to understand them and assume that their partner knows them well. However, ample research demonstrates that people's perceptions of others are not fully accurate and are often infleunced by biases (e.g., projection of one's own states onto the partner). My research has examined accuracy and bias in perceptions of romantic partners, the cues people use to make judgments about their partner's states, and how perceptions relate to partners' daily experiences and behaviors. We don't know much about how perception accuracy and bias influence the quality of the relationship and there are opposing predictions regarding their likely effects. 

2) People's peceptions of the rewards and threats in their relationship also influence the quality of their relationship, and perceptions of rewards and threats may change over the course of the relationship. Although quite a bit of research has focused on threats in relationships, we know less about rewards, how those change and what role they play in relationship quality. I'm particularly interested in studying relationships that have stood the test of time and better understanding how high quality relationships can be maintained over long periods of time in a way that they are still rewarding and fulfilling. 

3) New relationships are exciting and bring a lot of "new"-ness into people's lives, often resulting in considerable self-growth or self-expansion. But the new-ness wears off over time, and relationships are hard to maintain and partners are not perfect. In some recent work, I've started to explore how self-expansion (with or without the partner) and relationship boredom influence the quality of the relationship and how people navigate the relationship when their expectations are not met over time. For example, what do people do to grow in the context of their relationships? Do people have different levels of motivation for self-growth and what happens in the partners are mismatched? What if one partner experiences most of their self-growth outside of their relationship?  I've also been focusing on predictors of boredom and self-expansion, such as mindfulness, appreciation, and other individual differences.

INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES & WELL-BEING

In some new research, I have started to examine the role of various individual differences in well-being and their influence on relationship processes. In particular, motivations and experiences that are associated with self-growth can facilitate well-being, but it is unclear how they might relate to daily experiences and influence relationship processes. Thus, some of my current work focuses on self-expansion (i.e., self-growth) in the context of relationships. Mindfulness has also been shown to be associated with well-being, but its impact on relationship processes has not been extensively examined. 

Prospective Graduate Students

I will consider applications from students whose primary interests fall into any of the above listed areas of research.  If you are interested in working with me, I am always on the lookout for strong students who are primarily intersted in pursuing an academic/research career after graduate school. I will be looking at applications from prospective graduate students for the Fall of 2023. I can take students through either the social psychology graduate program or the clinical psychology graduate program (adult clinical psychology, clinical health psychology focus).

You can read more about our graduate program here at Kent State here, and find information on how to apply to our graduate program here. If you are interested in potentially working with me, please make sure that you mention that in your personal statement and explain how your own interests relate to my research program. If you have completed your GREs, I very strongly encourage you to submit that information along with your application materials, even if this is not a requirement for the university.