Interpersonal Relations

Human beings are inherently social creatures. Familial relationships set a foundation and provide a context for emotional, social, and cognitive achievements. Departmental research considers how parents, siblings, friends, in-laws, stepparents or children, and other social partners influence each other's well-being and development. Our research covers the life-span from infancy to old age, looking at individuals and families.

Faculty Research

Sharon Christ

Dr. Christ studies the relationships between parents and their adolescent children, particularly relationships resulting in maltreatment of adolescents. Her work in these areas has a strong methodological focus.

Sarah Eason

Dr. Eason examines how social interactions, particularly with parents and family members, contribute to young children’s cognitive development and attitudes towards learning. She is especially interested in how parents’ language and guidance can support early learning.

Melissa M. Franks

Dr. Franks’ research focuses on the interpersonal interactions of married partners in the management of chronic illness. She explores spouses’ involvement in the management of a partners’ chronic illness, and the association of spouse involvement with the health and well-being of both partners. Additionally, she investigates correspondence in health-promoting behaviors of married partners such as diet and exercise, and the association of this correspondence with their individual health and well-being.

Doran French

Dr. French’s research focuses on the peer relationships of children and adolescents both in the U.S. and in other countries (i.e., China, Indonesia, and S. Korea). Specific topics of study include friendships, conflict, and social competence.

Elliot Friedman

Dr. Friedman examines the ways in which interpersonal relationships and aging interact to affect health and biological processes related to health.

Pi-Ju (Marian) Liu

Dr. Liu’s research on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation provides opportunities to examine dynamics between victims and abusers/perpetrators. In many instances, these relationships involve family history between aging parents and adult children.

Kristine Marceau

Dr. Marceau’s research focuses primarily on parent-child relationships across childhood and adolescence, although she also considers the role of sibling, peer, and marital relationships for neuroendocrine and behavioral development.

Carolyn McCormick

Dr. McCormick focuses on the early development of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder within the family context. This includes research into how physiological responses influence interactions with caregivers.

Kameron Moding

Dr. Moding examines the impact of parent-child interactions during feeding and play contexts on socioemotional and health outcomes during infancy and early childhood.

Germán Posada

Dr. Posada studies child-parent attachment relationships in relation to family characteristics (e.g., marital conflict and support and child-rearing discipline practices) and their associations with children's socialization outcomes (e.g., interactions with peers).

A. J. Schwichtenberg

Dr. Schwichtenberg’s research focuses on families raising children who are at risk for social difficulties (e.g., infants born preterm, siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder). Using prospective longitudinal designs, Dr. Schwichtenberg examines parent-child dyadic interaction trajectories.

Zoe Taylor

Dr. Taylor examines how family relationships (e.g. quality of parent-child relations, marital relationships) relate to social and emotional competence in children and adolescents.


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