Dr. Mohr's Research
My research program concerns the role of interpersonal relationships in the attainment and maintenance of well-being and physical health. Drawing on Asch (1952) among others, I believe that to understand the effects of interpersonal relationships, one must look at actual social interactions. That is, positive interactions serve as sources of pleasure and buffers during stressful times, whereas negative interactions represent a potent source of stress that can lead to negative moods and harmful health-related behavior such as excessive alcohol consumption. Thus, social interactions represent important contributors to health. However, the processes by which interpersonal relationships and social interactions exert effects on psychological well-being and physical health are not fully understood.
I have conducted several interrelated strands of research examining the processes that link interpersonal relationships to alcohol consumption, one important class of health-related behaviors. Past research has provided support for multidimensional motivational models of alcohol consumption; among the patterns identified are tension-reduction and experience-enhancement drinking (e.g., Cooper et al., 1995). Both patterns depict interpersonal interactions as precipitating factors that activate positive and negative emotions and consequently consumption. My research builds on these models in three ways: (1) by considering more process-oriented, time-ordered designs; (2) by more closely examining the kinds of social interactions and social contexts likely to elicit drinking; and (3) by examining individual differences in processes of interest.
My current work builds on this foundation by employing dyadic research designs (particularly the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model or APIM; Kenny & Cook 1999) that consider how romantic partners’ (or married couples’) characteristics predict their own actions and health outcomes (actor effects) as well as their romantic partners’ actions and health outcomes (partner effects). I am also extending my focus beyond alcohol consumption by exploring such health-related issues as sleep and eating behavior.