Associate Professor, BS (Drake University), MA (University of Hawaii at Manoa), MSc (Utrecht University), Ph.D. (University of Amsterdam)
Director: Relationships and Emotions in Adolescent Life (REALife) Lab (www.realifelab.com)
Achieving optimal levels of intimacy in our interpersonal interactions is a complex task. The emotions that we experience and share with others serve vital social functions in this regard. We regulate distance and closeness with others by paying attention to internal signals such as anxiety, loneliness, and affection, via our nonverbal expressions that signal antagonism or affiliation, and through our overtly aggressive or constructive conflict behaviors. Such processes are particularly evident in adolescence, when individuals are learning to manage their emotional lives, adjust to new rules and responsibilities, and strike a critical balance between intimacy and independence across several different social relationships. Using experimental and longitudinal methods, my research focuses on social and personality factors guiding adolescents’ emotional functioning in interpersonal relationships. Across my different research projects, findings demonstrate that imbalances in desired levels of closeness with others are intertwined with youths’ emotional difficulties.
To learn more, please visit the Relationships and Emotions in Adolescent Life (REALife) Lab at www.realifelab.com
Expressions of emotion must also be regulated in the service of interpersonal goals. A major developmental challenge for children and adolescents is to master their regulation of emotional expression – flexibly suppressing, amplifying, and/or substituting emotional displays as required by social demands. This project investigates developmental, relational, and cognitive processes that hinder or promote children’s flexible use of different strategies to regulate emotion expression, particularly with regard to experiences of peer rejection. This research receives financial support from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (GRF 14403514)Privacy Management in Adolescent-Parent Relationships
Families must balance parents’ needs for information and intimacy with adolescents’ increasing demands for privacy. Changes in adolescence lead to clashes between parents' existing expectations for information and intimacy and youths' expectations for privacy. Paradoxically, parents who experience greater anxiety over children’s behaviors and the state of family relationships engage in intrusive behaviors, such as snooping and eavesdropping, that might ultimately drive family members further apart. The existence of these associations in both Northern European and Chinese families suggests that increased privacy needs during adolescence occur across cultures.Social and Personality Predictors of Adolescents’ Problematic Social Media Use
Youths frequently use mobile social media platforms to exchange messages with friends and family, as well as to share photos, videos, and updates about their lives. The use of both smartphones and social media is strongly tied to social-relational goals. Responsible use of these technologies can be instrumental both for identity expression and for relationship formation and maintenance (e.g., Livingstone, 2008). However, adolescents must strike delicate balances between an appropriate amount of personal disclosure versus sharing “too much information”, and between staying connected to others versus becoming too dependent on the technologies that provide this access. This research project examines whether experiences of social rejection and related needs for social validation might promote adolescents’ problematic use of social media, particularly among youths with narcissistic tendencies.