The summer research has started for several weeks. I’m extremely busy every day, reading over different papers related to my honor thesis, attempting to put my various thoughts and hypotheses into words, running experiments with other research assistants in the lab, and preparing for the standardized exam, GRE, as preparation for my graduate school application.
First a little bit about myself. I’m a rising senior double majoring in psychology and statistics. I’m particularly interested in the fields of social psychology and health psychology. I want to learn more about what factors may affect the quality and length of close relationships such as marriage and friendship; how may close relationships influence individuals’ physical and mental health; also, how can people overcome life challenges and function to their full potential with help and support from close relationships. I have already worked in the CMU relationships lab for more than one year. As a research assistant, I participate in a large research project called MATES study, which is a longitudinal follow-up study with a large sample of community couples who began participation in the study as newlyweds over 12 years ago. The study is mainly aimed to understand how close relationships develop and change over time, and how close relationships can facilitate or hinder thriving. Since the MATES study is highly related to my research interest, I decide to use part of the data from the ongoing study to start my own honor thesis research project—the predictors and direct consequences of support seeking in close relationships.
During my one-year work in the lab, I realize that seeking for support is as important as providing support in close relationships, especially marriage. Support seekers can cultivate effective support in their close relationships by openly expressing their worries and concerns, clearing describing the type of support, either instrumental or emotional as needed, and positively responding to their partners’ provision of comfort or reassurance. Actively seeking for support and appropriately expressing own needs can make it more likely for people to not only get more support from their partners, but also gain support that matches their needs more closely. While there’s not much research available on support-seeking, in my honors study, I wish to explore different predictors of support-seeking behavior when people are talking about life stressors and are in clear need of social support; and to understand the direct effects of support-seeking behavior — whether actively asking for support in close relationships will lead to higher relationship satisfaction, better physical and mental health outcomes.
Until now, I have done some literature review and I have drafted a theoretical rationale, specifically explaining the research background and theoretical framework underlying my project. Moreover, except for continuing running experiments and collecting data, I’m trying to revise a behavioral coding system for the stress discussion that I need to analyze for the study. There are still a lot of things waiting for me to explore. Wish that I have more interesting stories to share with you in the next post!