Research

Overview

On a daily basis, we have numerous experiences and engage in various behaviours that may help or harm our relationships in various ways. We are interested in examining how these seemingly mundane events and experiences affect relationship dynamics as well as how we think, feel, and interact the people closest to us (e.g., our romantic partners, close friends, parents, and children).

We use a multi-method approach that combines experimental, behavioural, experience sampling, and dyadic methods. Consequently, we implement a variety of statistical techniques, including multilevel modeling, generalized linear modeling, bootstrapping, and dyadic analyses.


Social Comparisons in the Context of Close Relationships

You're on your phone and you open up Facebook. Within a few scrolls, you find out that your friend's boyfriend has proposed to her in the most romantic way you've ever seen while on vacation in Paris. In contrast, you have to tiptoe around the idea of moving in together when you talk to your partner of 5 years. How do you feel about your own relationship? How do you feel about your partner?

At a social event, you run into your friend who has a child around the same age as yours. As you're chatting with your friend, she tells you about all her child's accomplishments, and all you can think about is how your child is falling behind in comparison. How does this affect how you see your child? How does this affect your relationship with your child?

Now more than ever before, we are bombarded by information about other people in our daily life, providing us with countless opportunities to compare ourselves, the people around us (including our close others such as family members, friends, and romantic partners), and our relationships. How do these comparisons affect our relationships? How do they change the way we see ourselves and the important people in our lives?

We explore the impact of these comparisons in the context of close relationships. Specifically, we examine
1. how comparisons between close others influence relationship outcomes (e.g., I compare myself to my romantic partner; Thai et al., 2016),
2. how comparisons between relationships influence how individuals perceive their own relationship (Thai et al., 2020), and
3. how comparisons between close others and another person (e.g, comparing my child to someone else's child or comparing my partner to someone else's partner) influence how individuals perceive the close other (e.g., romantic partner, parents, children, and close friends) and their relationships with these close others. (Thai & Lockwood, 2015; Thai et al., 2019)

More recently, we have begun to examine how comparisons influence people other than the comparer (e.g., the romantic partner, the child, the parent, relationship dynamics), and the cumulative impact of making multiple comparisons (see Midgley et al., in press).


Experience Sampling Methods

Because we examine how daily experiences affect relationships, we also conduct studies looking at experience sampling methodological issues. We have developed ExperienceSampler an open-source scaffold for building smartphone apps for experience sampling studies. (Thai & Page-Gould, 2018).

We are currently developing a reaction time toolkit for ExperienceSampler. We are also currently testing the efficacy of different experience sampling reporting protocols.