Research

The SHAW lab has several research streams currently being run, these include:

Positive Emotions and Loneliness: Loneliness is increasingly acknowledged to be a growing public health problem that can negatively affect one’s social, mental and physical health. Loneliness in young Australians is poorly understood despite the high prevalence rate. It is crucial to identify what can mitigate loneliness in vulnerable young people. The current project is about understanding the impact of positive affect on loneliness, specifically whether loneliness can be mitigated via generating positive affect within friendships.

Loneliness and Physical Health: There is ample evidence showing that loneliness is a public health problem that influences one’s social, mental and physical health. In these projects, we are particularly interested in investigating the influence of loneliness on physical health indicators such as heart functioning outcomes (heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure). Specifically, we are interested in investigating whether changes in social rejection (a component of loneliness) results in direct changes for heart functioning outcomes.

Loneliness in Older Adults: The main aim of this project is to understand how older adults experience loneliness and how they can use information and advice they receive in different ways to help with their social interactions.

Loneliness across Clinical Populations: These projects use an established intervention tool to reduce the effect of loneliness across young people with mental illness. There is a specific focus on young people with psychosis, major depressive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Loneliness, Internet Use, and Health Behaviours: Loneliness is increasingly acknowledged to be a growing public health problem that can negatively affect one’s social, mental and physical health. The aim of the current project is about understanding loneliness, social internet use, health behaviors, and well-being in young adults aged 18 to 25. There is limited research in this field on loneliness in young Australians. As such, there is increased importance in being able to track the developmental trajectory of this phenomenon.

Digital interventions to reduce loneliness:  Almost all young people own a smartphone and are competent with using it. As such, smartphones may be a useful tool for providing brief interventions to reduce loneliness. In these studies, we have developed a smartphone application to teach young people principles of social connectedness in attempt to increase the number of connections as well as the quality of existing and ongoing connections.