Tara Marshall
Associate Professor, Health, Aging & Society

I am a social psychologist whose research investigates the reciprocal influences of close relationships, social media, and culture on mental health and well-being. My research seeks answers to the following questions:

1. How do close relationships and culture influence mental health?

Drawing on qualitative and quantitative research methods, I examine sociocultural constructions of close relationships and the ways that they contribute to mental health and well-being. How do people experience relationship formation, maintenance, and breakups in a diverse range of cultures? I have also been studying immigrant couples: how are their relationships influenced by the process of acculturation, and simultaneously, how is their process of acculturation influenced by their relationships? Do secure relationships enhance immigrants' adaptation and well-being?

2. How does social isolation influence mental health and well-being?

The absence of close relationships - romantic, friendship, and family - is associated with poorer mental health and well-being. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, my research explores experiences of social isolation in university students and older adults.

3. How does social media influence close relationships?

Using experimental and longitudinal research designs, I am investigating the ways that people use social media to keep tabs on current and former romantic partners and whether it has a negative impact on their well-being. I am also examining whether people who tend to be anxiously attached in their relationships (i.e., feeling unworthy of love and fearing abandonment) are more prone to social media surveillance, and in turn, experience heightened jealousy and negative emotions.

4. Do personality traits predict social media behaviour?

My research examines whether the Big Five and Dark Triad personality traits predict the use of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, the content of one's posts, and the social response (e.g., likes/reactions/comments/retweets) one receives. Do people with certain personality traits (e.g., narcissism) particularly crave a strong social response to their social media posts, and how do they feel if they do not receive it?

5. What is the connection between aging, social media use, and well-being?

Recently, I have become interested in the ways that older adults use social media and whether it influences their well-being differentially compared to younger adults. For example, who do older adults compare themselves to when they browse social media and on what dimensions of comparison (e.g., physical health, lifestyle, social activity)? How do these social comparisons influence their mental health and well-being?
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