Applications for Society and Health

Therapy for Improved Social Connections 

The Center for the Science of Social Connection has an ongoing line of research investigating psychotherapeutic interventions targeting improved social connections as a mechanism for broad physical and mental health improvements.  We seek to better understand the mechanisms of change at the psychophysiological and behavioral levels and to improve psychiatric outcomes for clients who seek psychotherapy.

Awareness, Courage, and Love, and Heart Rate Vulnerability

This research seeks to understand relationships between social functioning, heart rate variability (HRV), weight-related variables, and distressing psychological symptoms.  HRV is increasingly seen as an important marker for bio-physiological self-regulation, which in turn has a large impact on social functioning including perceived social support, intimacy, relationship quality, and social connectedness.  These variables - self-regulation and social functioning - may also be very important to obesity and weight management, as well as psychological distress.  Previous research has examined aspects of these interrelationships, but not study has examined these variables simultaneously.  

Relationship Improvement Study

Research has shown that social connection is fundamental to psychological and physical wellbeing.  We believe it is important to understand what factors contribute to improving and maintaining the quality of relationships.  Social psychology literature suggests a model for the development of intimacy (i.e., connection) that has been widely researched.  

The current research asks participants to answer a series of questions requiring self-disclosure statements as answers while we collect heart rate variability data.  Some of those participating will receive personalized feedback from the research assistant while others will receive no feedback.  We seek to understand the impact of vulnerable self-disclosure and responsiveness on feelings of connection, and heart rate variability.