Self-determination is an organizing theory for my life as well as my research. As such, it has been applied and is currently being applied to all areas of my research both directly and indirectly.
- The Authentic Self: What facilitates, precedes, and results from expression of the authentic self in everyday life? Authenticity is characterized by knowing your values and living in line with them. This line of research is currently focused on development and testing of a promising intervention to increase authenticity and make its benefits available to the masses. This intervention shows efficacy in increasing authenticity in college students and its effects only grow over time. I am now aiming to bring it to populations who I think might benefit the most from increased authenticity.
- Interactions and Relationships of All Types: My early work in relationships research largely focused on established romantic relationships. While this is still an active research area for me, I am now working to examine many different kinds of relationships to explore the ways that they are the same as and different from more traditionally studies relationships. There is extensive compelling evidence that relationships can benefit people, but I believe that understanding how different kinds of relationships operate and are experienced, we can learn how best to leverage different kinds of relationships for individual benefit. For instance, well-established models of commitment show identical patterns when comparing pet and romantic relationships but diverge when comparing friend and romantic relationships: Why is this? Conversely, weak ties (those we know but might not confide in) versus close ties (those we think of as more traditional relationship partners), both provide need satisfaction and help us to have more well-being an achieve our goals. Still, the mere quantity of weak ties contributes to goal progress (whereas quantity of close ties does not), while close tie quantity contributes to well-being (whereas quantity of weak ties does not).