Celf Specialization: Psychology
I am interested in how stressors that occur outside of the family (e.g., at work and at school) can spillover and impact family interactions. Specifically, I am studying how job stressors influence marital interactions and behaviors, and identifying gender differences in how husbands and wives respond to work-related stress. My master’s research uses the CELF video data to study naturalistic interactions within the home, and also incorporates the daily diary reports completed by the couples about their daily job experiences and mood. In subsets of more distressed couples who experience high stress workdays, I have already identified marital withdrawal and greater negative mood in the first hour that couples are home together after work. I am continuing to analyze these data in order to better understand gender differences and the time sequence by which these phenomena occur.
In my future research at CELF, I plan to continue studying basic family interactions and mapping emotion transmission between family members. After the completion of the VPRISM project – a specially adapted software that will index the people and locations appearing in every second of over 1600 hours of video footage – I will have the search capabilities necessary to identify and study every interaction between each member of the family system over the course of the week. I plan on developing my own coding system to study the flow of emotions between family members. For example, previous research has suggested that husbands’ negative emotions predict wives’ negative emotions, and mothers’ negative emotions predict children’s negative emotions. Furthermore, tensions in the marital dyad have been shown to transmit to the parent-child dyad. Interestingly, there has been no evidence for the transmission of positive emotions. While there are hints in the literature about these patterns, prior studies have not had access to naturalistic data as comprehensive and multi-method in its approach as the CELF data. I believe that the knowledge that can be obtained from this important line of research has great relevance for researchers and the public alike about basic family dynamics with consequences for family functioning and health in dual-earner families.