Holly Laws, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychiatry

Research Summary

My research focuses on how close relationships impact mental and physical well-being. In particular, I am interested in how the repeated interactions, shared environment, and mutual influence associated with long-term close relationships impact mental and physical health.

Extensive Research Description

While there is a long history of research in the close relationships that shape children as they develop (e.g., parent-child relationships), there is a rapidly expanding body of research demonstrating that close relationships continue to exert strong influences on both physical and mental health into adulthood. My research aim is to uncover how close social relationships can augment, maintain, or deplete adults' psychological health over time. I believe that rigorous empirical investigation of social relationship processes is essential to a better understanding of and effective psychosocial intervention for many psychological disorders.

My statistical training in multilevel modeling has been an essential part of my research: the questions I am most interested in cannot be answered without the use of longitudinal and dyadic multilevel methods. These methods are invaluable in translating complex theories of social influence into testable statistical models, allowing for modeling change over time, bidirectional influence between partners, and testing the interaction of variables at multiple levels (e.g. individual, family, time). Such methods garner more nuanced information from quantitative data than traditional statistical techniques can. I have benefited from training in such methods and will continue to learn how to apply advanced statistical techniques to the task of understanding the nature of, and variation within, close relationships over time.

My current postdoctoral research at the Yale Stress Center with Dr. Emily Ansell involves the analysis of intensive longitudinal, or diary, data to examine how interpersonal stress impacts alcohol craving and use. My project focuses on the impact of social rejection on HPA dysfuction and perceived stress.

I also currently work with Dr. Rani Hoff studying how processes within marriage and cohabiting partnerships are implicated in PTSD recovery in returning combat veterans.

Selected Publications

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