Health Notes: Researchers Examine Romantic Relationships

Jan. 31, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin examine the science and sociology of intimate relationships, from the initial attraction between two people to the effects of long-term compatibility and separation. The following experts are available to discuss their research on human relationships.

How Writing Can Help Relationships
James Pennebaker
Chair, Department of Psychology
512-232-2781
pennebaker@mail.utexas.edu

Writing about one's romantic relationship may help it last longer, according to a study by Pennebaker. To learn more, read the feature "Language of Love." Pennebaker is the author of several books, including "Opening Up" and "Writing to Heal," and is a pioneer in the study of using expressive writing as a route to healing.

Increase in Cohabitation
Kelly Raley
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
512-232-6333
kraley@prc.utexas.edu

Raley studies trends in marriage, cohabitation and sexual relationships. She has examined the increase in cohabitation unions and how it affects fertility and children's family instability. She also studies mate selection and how marital search constraints affect the likelihood of marriage.

Changes in Intimate Relationships
Ted Huston
Professor of Human Ecology and Psychology, Department of Human Ecology
512-471-5606
huston@mail.utexas.edu

Huston focuses on how and why intimate relationships change over time. His research examines the role of disillusionment in divorce, the connection between problems that surface during courtship and later marital distress, the impact of parenthood on marriage and gender differences in interpersonal styles. To learn more, read the feature "What's Love Got to Do With It?"

Cathy Surra
Professor, Department of Human Ecology
512-471-0618
surra@mail.utexas.edu

Surra studies the development of romantic unions, including marriage. She examines how commitment evolves over time, the ways in which partners choose one another as mates and the links between the selection process and the long-term health of relationships.

Children and the Myth of a Good Divorce
Norval Glenn
Professor in American Studies, Department of Sociology
512-232-6320
ndglenn@mail.la.utexas.edu

Glenn led a national study that reveals amicable divorces take a toll on children's overall wellbeing, as well as their own future marital success. Surprisingly, people whose parents had a good divorce had, on average, the least successful marriages of any of the categories of persons compared. To learn more, read the feature "The Divorce Dilemma."

Communication in Relationships
William Swann Jr.
Professor, Department of Psychology
512-471-3859
swann@mail.utexas.edu

Swann examines how the presence or absence of verbal inhibitions affects romantically involved couples. He found relationships become particularly troubled when men who are more verbally inhibited are paired with women who are highly critical and verbally disinhibited. To learn more, read the feature "Utterly Blirtatious!"

René Dailey
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies
512-471-4867
rdailey@mail.utexas.edu

Dailey examines interpersonal and family communication. Specific to romantic relationships, she studies communication in what are popularly known as "on-again/off-again" dating relationships.

Mark Knapp
Professor, Department of Communication Studies
512-471-3787
mlknapp@mail.utexas.edu

Knapp researches nonverbal communication in human interaction, interpersonal communication and human relationships.

Anita Vangelisti
Professor, Department of Communication Studies
512-471-1921
a.vangelisti@mail.utexas.edu

Vangelisti researches interpersonal communication among family members and between romantic partners. She focuses on how communication affects, and is affected by, emotions and the interpretative process.

Competition, Hormones and Behavior
Robert Josephs
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
512-471-9788
josephs@mail.psy.utexas.edu

Josephs studies testosterone levels and competitiveness and the differences between men and women in the drive to dominate. For example, after a man loses a challenge-in a competitive sport or in the social arena-whether or not he is willing to get back in the game depends on changes in his testosterone levels.

Get a Clue: How People Present Themselves
Sam Gosling
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
512-471-1628
samg@mail.utexas.edu

Gosling studies how people create environments that provide insights into their personalities and how they would like to be perceived. For example, these cues are found in the ways people decorate their offices or bedrooms. To learn more, read the feature "The Personality of Personal Spaces."

Divorce and Heart Disease in Women
Mark Hayward
Director, Population Research Center
512-471-8382
mhayward@prc.utexas.edu

Hayward's research reveals divorced middle-aged women are 60 percent more likely to get cardiovascular disease-even when they remarry-than women who remain married. The research reveals emotional distress and a decline in financial status were the main factors linking divorce to heart disease in women.

Health and Marital Happiness
Debra Umberson
Professor, Department of Sociology
512-232-6330
umberson@mail.la.utexas.edu

Umberson researches marital quality and health. She has found that as men and women age they become increasingly vulnerable to marital stress.

Mating, Murder and Relationships
David Buss
Professor, Department of Psychology
512-475-8489
dbuss@psy.utexas.edu

Buss researches the nature of mating, friendship and murder within close relationships. He draws on an evolutionary psychology perspective to examine the features of love and hate that are intimately tied to biological connections. To learn more, read the feature "The Murderer Next Door."

Mating Budget Can Add Up to a Partner
Norman Li
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
512-471-1124
normli@mail.utexas.edu

Li argues that finding a mate is essentially a matter of budget allocation, balancing what you have to offer and what you hope to find. To learn more, read the feature story "Banking on Love?"

Reliance on Social Networks to Support Relationships
Tim Loving
Assistant Professor, Department of Human Ecology
512-471-0973
tjloving@mail.utexas.edu

Loving researches the relationship support process. He investigates individuals' conversations about their romantic relationships with members of their social network. He assesses how this alleviates or exacerbates how people respond to stress in situations such as the separation from a partner.

Pornography: What's Love Got to Do with It?
Robert Jensen
Associate Professor, School of Journalism
512-471-1990
rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu

Jensen draws on a variety of critical approaches to media and power. Much of his work has focused on pornography and the radical feminist critique of sexuality and men's violence. His latest book is "Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity."

For more information, contact: Christian Clarke Casarez, director of international public affairs.