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Research Projects

The Role of Self Expansion in On-Again/Off-Again Relationships

Department: Psychology

Faculty Member: Emily Connard

Topic or Area of Interest: Social Psychology, Relationships

Description: Self-expansion is a significant motivator for interpersonal engagement. The desire to self-expand is motivated by the desire to increase interests, skills, and perspectives by engaging in novel and exciting activities (Aaron et al., 2013). Newfound intimacy is one-way individuals self-expand (Aaron et al., 2013) and typically involves increasing knowledge and expanding the self-concept (Aaron et al., 2013). The sense of self-expansion is especially salient in new couples as opposed to partnerships that have become familiar (Sheets, 2014). According to this framework, the key to staying happy is by finding innovative and creative ways to avoid the relationship feeling stale (Fivecoat et al., 2015). Not all couples can maintain this sense of growth and excitement. Couples who feel their current partnerships lack self-expansion indicate higher infidelity probability (Lewandowski & Ackerman, 2006). Furthermore, individuals who experienced rewarding self-growth in their relationship change their self-concepts following a breakup (Mason et al., 2012). This can be especially challenging when these self-concepts have become a central part of their self-definition (Mason et al., 2012). While we know the role that self-expansion plays in relationship formation (a gratifying increase in novel experiences) and dissolution (loss of self-concept), its role in individuals who return to their significant partner after dissolution is largely understudied. This leads to the question: How does self-expansion affect the returning behavior to past partners. This current study will examine how self-expansion motivations affect two forms of relationship churning: reconciliations and sex with an ex.

Looking for Research Assistant: No

Gender Roles and the Household Division of Labor Among Married Couples During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Department: Sociology

Faculty Member: Emily Carian

Topic or Area of Interest: Gender inequality

Description: This is a joint project with Drs. Jurgita Abromaviciute and Emily Carian. This project asks how married heterosexual couples with young children make decisions about household labor (housework and childcare) during the Covid-19 pandemic. We use interviews to determine whether the pandemic worsens existing gender inequalities in household labor.

Looking for Research Assistant: Yes

Funding Type: Faculty Research Funds, Federal Workstudy

Earliest Graduation Date:

Latest Graduation Date:

Role of Student: The student research assistant will recruit interview participants and schedule interviews. They may also conduct background research, including literature review summaries, and transcribe interviews. Hours/days of work are flexible/at student's convenience.

Opportunity Type: Research Assistant

Is this Position Paid?: Yes

Hourly Rate: $14/hour

Days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Eligibility Requirements: Overall GPA


Eligibility Requirements: Discipline(s)

Required GPA: 3.5

Required Discipline: Any of the following: Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Economics, Gender Studies, Criminology

Qualifications: Applicants must have strong written and oral communication skills and be organized and responsible.

How to Apply: Submit application onto Handshake at: Students must check with financial aid to see if they qualify for Federal Workstudy (FWS) before applying. Mandatory FWS training will be required.