Department Newsletter | Graduate Student Spotlight

Kyle Bourassa, PhD Student in Clinical Psychology 

My research interests focus on close relationships and the impact of relationships on our psychological wellbeing and physical health. I am particularly interested in life transitions including the process of aging, divorce, and widowhood. In a recent paper with my advisor, Dr. David Sbarra, and two graduate students, Cindy Woolverton and Molly Memel, we found that quality of life for older adults depended on their spouses physical health and cognition. In another study with Dr. Mary-Frances O’Connor and graduate student Lindsey Knowles, I extended this work and found that aging couples’ quality of life was still linked, even after one member of a couple passed away.

Currently, I am focusing on how our close relationships might affect physical health. For example, what happens to our cardiovascular system when close relationships end? It turns out that the amount a person’s blood pressure increases when thinking about their “ex” depends both on how people report they are doing after the divorce as well as their body’s self-regulatory capacity.

In the future, I am excited to try to extend this work and explore how romantic partners might provide social support to each other, even when they aren’t physically present.