Family Relationships and Well-being
The core premise driving my research on health and well-being is that too much of our work is focused on individual risk and protection and too little is focused on social risk and protection. We do not live our lives independently, we live them interdependently, and yet individuals are often the unit of analysis in most of our work on health and well-being. Although it is impossible to capture the interdependence of human lives in its totality, we can capture some of this interdependence in our data. I do this by thinking and measuring how our health and well-being is, at least in part, rooted in family and romantic relationships. Much of my work views a dyad (either a romantic couple or a parent-child dyad) as the primary unit of analysis and examines processes of relational influence, particularly that of stress contagion (where stressors experienced by one member of the dyad spread to others). I am not only interested in understanding this process as it is related to health but also to other life course domains indicative of well-being, like education and criminal behavior.
Romantic Relationship Development
Because I view (and my work shows) how romantic and family relationships are important for health and well-being, I also explore how these relationships are formed and maintained. I situate these relationships in sociohistorical context and examine influences across multiple levels (e.g. individual, interpersonal, and neighborhood). Currently, I am interested in understanding how external stressors (e.g. racial discrimination, debt) impact young adult romantic relationships.
Families and Justice Project
In collaboration with my undergraduate Juvenile Justice students and my graduate Families and Crime students, I have collected repeated cross-sectional survey data from college students and their social networks from 2016-2021. Mary Nell Trautner has undertaken a complementary qualitative interview project with her students. With these data, we are examining questions related to how young people's experiences with family and justice are related to their experiences during the transition to adulthood, particularly mental health, social relationships, and beliefs about and commitment to conventional institutions.