Research focuses on the nature, implications, and intersections of social relationships and culture. Studies involving social relationships include family and nonfamily relationships. Work also examines various cultures and communities including education, ethnicity and social class, inequalities, disparities, workplaces, tourism, and organizations.


From the moment of birth, human beings are social creatures. Relationships within a family unit provide a foundation and context for our emotional, social and cognitive achievements. German Posada’s research focuses on the development of child-mother attachment relationships from birth through age 8. “Child-parent attachment relationships are linked to developmental outcomes and later close relationships,” says Posada, associate professor in HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND FAMILY STUDIES. “We need to understand the processes involved in constructing effective parent-child relationships and how they impact future developmental trajectories.” By observing child-mother interactions in different cultural and social settings, Posada and his team gather information on the interactions that support children becoming confident in the availability of important people in their lives and also in exploring their environment. These findings can inform intervention programs aimed at improving the quality of care for children.


Why is it difficult for young people to leave an abusive or controlling relationship? “Fear of a relationship ending keeps people in relationships,” explains Ximena Arriaga, associate professor in PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES. “People are afraid they will be worse off if it ends.” She studies relationship commitment, partner aggression and domestic violence policy. She found a disconnect between how they actually felt once the relationship was over and how they had anticipated feeling months earlier. For most, they were much happier than they thought they would be. Arriaga is also looking at what psychological factors cause a person to preserve a hurtful relationship at the expense of their well-being, and at what point they shift toward wanting to end the relationship.

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