Our research examines human social interaction. We are interested in understanding how people think, feel, and behave when they interact with others, as well as how people's experiences and behaviors are influenced by their interaction partners. Our work examines how people's experiences and behaviors change over time within individual interactions (for example, from one minute to the next) and also how people's experiences fluctuate across repeated interactions with the same partner (for example, from week to week). We investigate social interaction in the lab and in more naturalistic settings, and we use many methodological tools, including experiments, behavioral observation, psychophysiology, experience sampling, spoken language processing, dyadic data analysis, and intensive longitudinal methods. Some of our current research topics are listed below.

female students

When people interact, they can become similar to each other in many ways. Over the past few years, we’ve been investigating similarity in interaction partners’ physiological responses: How and when do people who are interacting with one another exhibit similar physiological experiences? We’ve been pursuing the following questions:

  • What behaviors do people engage in that lead to physiological synchrony?

  • In what types of relationships do people experience physiological synchrony?

  • How is physiological synchrony related to similarity between people's subjective experiences?

  • How is physiological synchrony related to interpersonal accuracy?

  • What are the strengths and limitations of various quantitative methods for assessing physiological synchrony?

We study these questions primarily by examining people's autonomic nervous system responses continuously throughout dyadic and group interactions and by developing novel analytic techniques for examining these responses.

finger heart monitor
Measuring Blood Pressure

No two social interactions are the same, and we are interested in how people's experiences and behaviors during social interactions vary based on their own social identities and the identities of their interaction partners. Furthermore, we are interested in the psychological processes that underlie these differences. Our team has been studying the following questions:

  • How and why do hierarchical differences between people influence how much they engage with each other and how well they work together?

  • Within STEM learning environments, are there gender differences in how people behave and feel when interacting with their peers and/or their mentors?

  • When forming professional relationships, do people engage in different behaviors depending on their demographic and psychological similarity with one another?

  • How does the knowledge that one's partner is from a different country shape what people say in conversation?

  • How do people’s hierarchical roles shape their emotional responses during stressful conversations?

We study these questions by examining social interactions in a variety of contexts and around the world in both lab and field settings.