Current Projects

Current Projects Details

Friends play a vital role in both preventing loneliness and boosting happiness and life satisfaction. Yet, people do not seem to prioritize their friendships, and are spending less time in face-to-face communication. The American Friendship Project is the first nationally-representative, multi-year, longitudinal study on friendship. This project is in association with Dr. Natalie Pennington (UNLV) and Dr. Amanda Holmstrom (Michigan State University).

In these unprecedented times of social distancing and shelter at home orders, what patterns of personal media use can sustain relationships and mental health?  How has this pandemic changed the way people use social media? What patterns of person media use (i.e., video chat, phone calls, text messages) help people to keep in touch and maintain social well-being?  

Easy access to our friends and family through mobile devices is a double-edged sword. When others are always accessible us - and us to them - we become tethered to our devices. How do we manage the feelings of being overwhelmed and obligated to respond that accompanies perpetual access?  Do we feel anxious about how others evaluate our online selves, and do we become more aware of being excluded because of social media? This project is in collaboration with Prof. Ric Steele, Director of the Clinical Child Psychology Program at KU.

This theory offers a way to understand the social ecology of our everyday communication. It can be used to answer questions such as, what role does social contact and conversation play in our daily and global well-being? How do we find the right balance between being with others and being alone?  How does conversation influence how we feel about our relationship partners and our sense of connectedness to one another? Can conversation change the quality of our days?