Bryn Mawr Emotion and Family Research Center

Director: Marc Schulz, Ph.D.


Our Research Team

Back Row: Joanna, Karen, Sarah, Emily M., Dr. Schulz
Front Row: Emily W., Sarah Ellen, Heejin, Amy, Ginny

What we do

We are interested in how individuals regulate their emotional experience and expression especially when they are under stress or interacting with family members. Our research focuses on identifying the determinants and consequences of different styles of emotion regulation and expression. We have particular interests in studying how couples express and regulate emotions as they negotiate conflicts, communicate about important issues, and cope with daily stressors. By studying important aspects of couple relationships we hope to identify factors that may help couples maintain satisfying and healthy relationships and allow their children to thrive.

Current Areas of Research

Marital Relationships

We have been using multiple methods (i.e., observational, psychophysiological, and self-report) to study emotion processes in the context of actual couple interactions. In addition to studying a number of questions related to emotion and its influence on other psychological processes, another important goal of our studies is to identify correlates of marital satisfaction and stability.

  • Over 150 couples have visited our laboratories in Bryn Mawr and Boston (Collaborator: Robert Waldinger, Harvard University) to participate in a study of emotion processes in marital relationships.
  • In collaboration with Robert Waldinger, we have been using daily diaries and marital interaction tasks to study the emotional life and relationships of elderly couples.
    • We are also exploring determinants and health correlates of long-term marriage success in this sample that has been followed for more than 60 (!) years.

Emotion Regulation

We have been conducting studies examining the consequences of particular emotion regulation strategies or styles (e.g., suppression, mindfulness) on psychological and physical functioning.

  • We have recently begun studying emotional, cognitive and physiological processes linked to mindfulness. For example, in collaboration with Becky Compton (Haverford College) we have explored the links between a mindful personality style and asymmetries in electrical (EEG) activity in the brain.
  • We have been examining the short-term effects of emotional suppression on physiological and cognitive functioning.
  • Previous work has examined the ways in which adolescents cope with exposure to their parents’ marital conflict.

Work and Family

We have been exploring the ways in which work activities might influence couple and family life on a daily basis. Using daily diary designs we have studied daily work and family links in firefighters, Bryn Mawr alumnae, and their families.

  • In collaboration with Stuart Hauser (Harvard University) and other colleagues from the Across Generations Project (AGP), we have begun studying the influence of work commitments, decisions about work, and work stress on individual and family functioning in adulthood. Participants are in their forties and have been followed by the AGP for 30 years.