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Current Projects (2023-2024)

Below are some of the research projects currently underway this year.


Early Relational Exclusion Among Sexual Minority and Gender Diverse Youth

This study explores how LGBTQIA+ young adults make sense of early relational exclusion (i.e., memorable messages of past relational experiences that resulted in feelings of difference and isolation). The primary goal of this study is to understand how the lingering effects of early relational exclusion influence sexual minority and gender-diverse individuals’ current-day relationships, self-perceptions, and overall well-being. You can find the first paper published from this project in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Relational Processes that Buffer Loneliness Among Sexual Minority Men: Linking Interpersonal Communication with Minority Stress Theory


This study addresses a critical gap in the literature by investigating how stigma-based stressors—concealment behavior, rejection sensitivity, social anxiety, and internalized homonegativity—combined with interpersonal communication variables shape psychosocial outcomes over time. We examine the role of specific relational processes (e.g., esteem support, partner responsiveness) in the extended psychological mediation framework and explore how unique latent profiles of sexual minority men relate to loneliness.


Connecting Beyond Small Talk: The Health Benefits of Closeness-Generating Conversations for Socially Vulnerable Individuals

This project utilizes dyadic interaction analysis to test whether individuals whose 'need to belong' is at risk report greater benefits after a social connection intervention than those not at risk. The primary goal of this research is to uncover communication-based strategies that conversational partners can use to build rapport with individuals with elevated levels of social anxiety, chronic loneliness, and those who engage in prolonged withdrawal behavior.

Health Message Exposure & LGBTQIA+ Community Connectedness during the 2022 Global Outbreak of Mpox


This study explored social determinants of health message exposure during the August 2022 global outbreak of Mpox among young sexual minority men. Results from this study suggest that LGBTQIA+ community connectedness was an important form of social capital that facilitated higher health message exposure, especially on social media (funded by the Department of Communication at UC Santa Barabra).

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