Research Interests


My research is based in social-personality psychology and specifically on issues within close relationships and health-related behavior. First, I study the interaction of individuals in close relationships (e.g., friendships, dating relationships, marriages), and how the actual and perceived goals of both partners influence patterns of interaction, strategies of conflict resolution, and relationship satisfaction. My work reveals that satisfaction in a relationship is often more a function of individuals' beliefs about their partner's goals and attributes more than their actual goals and attributes. Second, I look at individuals' accuracy in perceiving others' attitudes and behavior (e.g., in terms of eating and exercise, alcohol use, condom use), as well as how such perceptions (and misperceptions) influence one's own attitudes and patterns of behavior. For example, this work has shown that women see other women as thinner and as exercising more than they themselves do, and women who feel more discrepant from others show higher rates of eating disorders. Third, my research examines why individuals learn more when they receive personally-relevant or "matching" messages (e.g., videos, brochures, advertisements) about health-related topics (e.g., eating disorders, condom use). This work demonstrates that individuals who are focused on intimacy benefit more from condom-promotion messages that stress the communication skills related to condom use, whereas those who are focused on independence benefit more from messages that stress technical skills associated with condom use.