A central theme in my research is that our social relationships impact the individual psychologically and physiologically. My program of research is focused on how we can better understand the pathways by which our social relationships - external, non-physiological phenomena - get under the skin and come to influence our internal, physiological processes. Thus far, I have primarily focused upon the social support we get from important social ties, such as friends, family, or spouses, as well as negative or stressful social interactions, and relationship quality and how they influence cardiovascular, psychological, and immune processes. My research includes experimental work in the laboratory as well as repeated measures in the real world over time to examine how relationships lead to one outcome versus the other.
In a tip of the hat to the age-old question of the relative contributions of nature and nurture on the individual, we can say that while relationships themselves are universal and important, the way we experience them is less so. A second line of research I pursue is related to this question. I examine culture (e.g. social orientation, independent/interdependent self-schema, residential mobility, holistic-analytical cognitive sets) as a macro-level variable that impacts - or even changes altogether - the pathways and mechanisms linking social relationships to our psychological and physical health. I am particularly interested in studying this question using repeated measures in daily life, over time, with both objective and subjective well-being measures, and while accounting for individual variability in cultural orientations within samples.
Opportunities For Students
I am currently looking for two responsible, committed undergraduate students at the Asia Campus to work in my lab as research assistants. The experience is great graduate school preparation and to learn more about the scientific process. Looking for assistants who can volunteer approximately 4-5 hours a week. Ideally, research assistants will have taken Research Methods, Intro to Psych, or Intro to Social Psych. We will be conducting two pilot studies (one experimental, one online) in preparation of larger scale projects. Assistants will help with consenting participants, running study visits, and data entry.
B.A., American University (Psychology, 2006)
M.A., Pepperdine University (Clinical Psychology, 2009)
M.S., University of Utah (Psychology, 2013)
Ph.D., University of Utah (Psychology, 2015)
Bowen, K. S., Uchino, B. N., Birmingham, W., Carlisle, M., Smith, T. W., & Light, K. C. (2013). The stress-buffering effects of functional social support on ambulatory blood pressure. Health Psychology, doi: 10.1037/hea0000005 Download
Bowen, K. S., Birmingham, W., Uchino, B. N., Carlisle, M., Smith, T. W., & Light, K. C. (2013). Specific dimensions of perceived support and ambulatory blood pressure: Which support functions appear to be most beneficial and for whom? International Journal of Psychophysiology, 88(3), 317-324. Download