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Biobehavioral Processes

Recent conceptual and technological advances have led to innovative research highlighting reciprocal influences among social, demographic, behavioral, and biological processes. Thus, it is clear that human biology helps shape, and is shaped by, social and psychological experiences. By integrating both biological and psychosocial measurements into studies of the family and human development, we are better equipped to more accurately capture and understand who we are as individuals and how families function. Researchers in this area are incorporating biological markers assessing immune function, the psychobiology of the stress response, sex hormones, and genetic markers of affiliative behaviors.

Faculty Research

  • Melissa Franks
    In her research on marital interactions in the context of chronic illness management, Dr. Franks explores biobehavioral processes as intervening mechanisms in, and as markers of, anticipated linkages among social and health lifestyle behaviors of each partner and the health behaviors, physical health and well-being outcomes of the other. Her current work includes innovative nutrition assessments of both married partners in the daily management of diabetes and is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Carol Boushey.
  • Elliot Friedman
    Dr. Friedman’s research focuses on physiological regulation in older adults as a function of social, psychological, and behavioral factors interacting over time.
  • Blake Jones
    Dr. Jones is interested in how stress and physiological reactivity are related to obesity. His work examines the mechanisms by which stress and physiological reactivity influence food consumption, consistency of daily patterns and routines, and food choices and preferences that relate to chronic exposure to stress.
  • A.J. Schwichtenberg
    Dr. Schwichtenberg is interested in infant physiological regulation. She assesses infant sleep and daytime regulation using standard (e.g., actigraphy) and no-contact technology. She is interested in how physiological regulation influences developmental trajectories in typically developing children and in children with developmental concerns (e.g., autism spectrum disorders).
  • Zoe Taylor
    Dr. Taylor is interested in individual differences in physiological reactivity and regulation in response to stress, and their relations to both risk and resilience. She is particularly interested in exploring how physiology interacts with family processes and other individual characteristics in relation to social and emotional adjustment.