Faculty » Megan Robbins

In my research, I seek to understand how people’s daily social interactions are related to their health and well-being. I particularly focus on the role of automatic behaviors (e.g., word use, sighing, laughing) in the coping process. Studying these automatic behaviors in their social context necessitates observational assessment in the “real world.” The naturalistic observation method I use is the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR; Mehl et al., 2001), which periodically records snippets of sound (typically 30 sec every 12 min) in people’s momentary environments to yield acoustic logs of their days as they naturally unfold. It allows me to be a “fly on the wall” in participants’ lives to study how their observed daily behavior relates to coping outcomes. Another line of my research uses findings from these observational studies to inform the development of coping and well-being interventions. My goal is to understand the implications of mundane interactions and automatic behaviors to elucidate effective strategies and interventions people can naturally incorporate into their daily lives.

Selected Publications

Robbins, M. L. (2017). Practical suggestions for legal and ethical concerns with social environment sampling methods. Social Psychological and Personality Science, online publication, 1-8.

Manson, J. H., & Robbins, M. L. (2017). New evaluation of the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR): Obtrusiveness, compliance, and participant self-selection effects. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1-18.

Karan, A., Wright, R. C., Karan, A., Wright, R. C., & Robbins, M. L. (2017). Everyday emotion word and personal pronoun use reflects dyadic adjustment among couples coping with breast cancer. Personal Relationships, 24, 36-48.

Robbins, M. L., Lopez, A. M., Weihs, K. L., & Mehl, M. R. (2014). Cancer conversations in context: Naturalistic observation of couples coping with breast cancer. Journal of Family Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036458

Robbins, M. L., Mehl, M. R., Smith, H. L., & Weihs, K. L. (2013). Linguistic indicators of patient, couple, and family adjustment following breast cancer, Psycho-Oncology, 22, 1501-1508.

Mehl, M. R., Robbins, M. L., Holleran, S. E.  (2013). How taking a word for a word can be problematic: Context-dependent linguistic markers of extraversion and neuroticism. Journal of Methods and Measurement in the Social Sciences, 3, 30-50.

Mehl, M. R., Robbins, M. L., & große Deters, F. (2012). Naturalistic observation of health-relevant social processes: The electronically activated recorder (EAR) methodology in psychosomatics. Psychosomatic Medicine, 74, 410-417.

Robbins, M. L., Focella, E. S., Kasle, S., Weihs, K. L., López, A. M., & Mehl, M. R., (2011). Naturalistically observed swearing, emotional support and depressive symptoms in women coping with illness. Health Psychology, 30, 789-792.

Robbins, M. L., Mehl, M. R., Holleran, S. E., & Kasle, S. (2011). Naturalistically observed sighing and depression in rheumatoid arthritis patients: A preliminary study. Health Psychology, 30, 129-133.