Interpersonal physiology: Assessing interpersonal relationships through physiology

Richard Vincent Palumbo, University of Rhode Island


Interpersonal physiology is the study of relationships between people's physiological activates during social interactions. Converging evidence indicates that interdependencies develop between peoples' autonomic systems, and can be indicative of psychosocial constructs such as empathy and attachment. These interdependencies, often referred to as physiological linkage, are theorized to be key components of social process. However, research in the area is limited, and there is little consensus for best practices. The mechanisms involved in the emergence of linkage, terminology, and methodology and statistics have not been adequately addressed. The following dissertation aims to systematically address these issues through four manuscripts. The first addresses potential generating mechanisms using a controlled, laboratory based study. Results indicate that matched activity and dialog are not necessary for physiological interactions to emerge between romantic couples. In the second manuscript, analytical issues are addressed through the application of cointegration, an advanced time series modeling procedure designed to handle multivariate, nonstationary data. However, the analysis was not well suited to these data. The third manuscript addresses the informational divide through a systematic literature review designed to both create a centralized resource, and offer recommendations for the field at large. In the final manuscript, the inconsistent timescales in which physiological relationships appear to occur is addressed through the use of a novel method of data decomposition in the time domain. The method is applied to an idiographic example of data collected in-vivo from a student with autism spectrum disorder and his teacher.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Psychology|Physiological psychology

Recommended Citation

Richard Vincent Palumbo, "Interpersonal physiology: Assessing interpersonal relationships through physiology" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3688344.