Bio


Nilam Ram studies the dynamic interplay of psychological and media processes and how they change from moment-to-moment and across the life span.

Nilam’s research grows out of a history of studying change. After completing his undergraduate study of economics, he worked as a currency trader, frantically tracking and trying to predict the movement of world markets as they jerked up, down and sideways. Later, he moved on to the study of human movement, kinesiology, and eventually psychological processes - with a specialization in longitudinal research methodology. Generally, Nilam studies how short-term changes (e.g., processes such as learning, information processing, emotion regulation, etc.) develop across the life span, and how longitudinal study designs contribute to generation of new knowledge. Current projects include examinations of age-related change in children’s self- and emotion-regulation; patterns in minute-to-minute and day-to-day progression of adolescents’ and adults’ emotions; and change in contextual influences on well-being during old age. He is developing a variety of study paradigms that use recent developments in data science and the intensive data streams arriving from social media, mobile sensors, and smartphones to study change at multiple time scales.

Academic Appointments


Stanford Advisees


All Publications


  • The Idiosyncrasies of Everyday Digital Lives: Using the Human Screenome Project to Study User Behavior on Smartphones. Computers in human behavior Brinberg, M. n., Ram, N. n., Yang, X. n., Cho, M. J., Sundar, S. S., Robinson, T. N., Reeves, B. n. 2021; 114

    Abstract

    Most methods used to make theory-relevant observations of technology use rely on self-report or application logging data where individuals' digital experiences are purposively summarized into aggregates meant to describe how the average individual engages with broadly defined segments of content. This aggregation and averaging masks heterogeneity in how and when individuals actually engage with their technology. In this study, we use screenshots (N > 6 million) collected every five seconds that were sequenced and processed using text and image extraction tools into content-, context-, and temporally-informative "screenomes" from 132 smartphone users over several weeks to examine individuals' digital experiences. Analyses of screenomes highlight extreme between-person and within-person heterogeneity in how individuals switch among and titrate their engagement with different content. Our simple quantifications of textual and graphical content and flow throughout the day illustrate the value screenomes have for the study of individuals' smartphone use and the cognitive and psychological processes that drive use. We demonstrate how temporal, textual, graphical, and topical features of people's smartphone screens can lay the foundation for expanding the Human Screenome Project with full-scale mining that will inform researchers' knowledge of digital life.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chb.2020.106570

    View details for PubMedID 33041494

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7543997

  • Time for the Human Screenome Project NATURE Reeves, B., Robinson, T., Ram, N. 2020; 577 (7790): 314–17

    View details for Web of Science ID 000509570100014

    View details for PubMedID 31942062

  • Screenomics: A New Approach for Observing and Studying Individuals' Digital Lives. Journal of adolescent research Ram, N., Yang, X., Cho, M. J., Brinberg, M., Muirhead, F., Reeves, B., Robinson, T. N. 2020; 35 (1): 16-50

    Abstract

    This study describes when and how adolescents engage with their fast-moving and dynamic digital environment as they go about their daily lives. We illustrate a new approach - screenomics - for capturing, visualizing, and analyzing screenomes, the record of individuals' day-to-day digital experiences.Over 500,000 smartphone screenshots provided by four Latino/Hispanic youth, age 14-15 years, from low-income, racial/ethnic minority neighborhoods.Screenomes collected from smartphones for one to three months, as sequences of smartphone screenshots obtained every five seconds that the device is activated, are analyzed using computational machinery for processing images and text, machine learning algorithms, human-labeling, and qualitative inquiry.Adolescents' digital lives differ substantially across persons, days, hours, and minutes. Screenomes highlight the extent of switching among multiple applications, and how each adolescent is exposed to different content at different times for different durations - with apps, food-related content, and sentiment as illustrative examples.We propose that the screenome provides the fine granularity of data needed to study individuals' digital lives, for testing existing theories about media use, and for generation of new theory about the interplay between digital media and development.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0743558419883362

    View details for PubMedID 32161431

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7065687

  • Emotional Experience Improves With Age: Evidence Based on Over 10 Years of Experience Sampling PSYCHOLOGY AND AGING Carstensen, L. L., Turan, B., Scheibe, S., Ram, N., Ersner-Hershfield, H., Samanez-Larkin, G. R., Brooks, K. P., Nesselroade, J. R. 2011; 26 (1): 21-33

    Abstract

    Recent evidence suggests that emotional well-being improves from early adulthood to old age. This study used experience-sampling to examine the developmental course of emotional experience in a representative sample of adults spanning early to very late adulthood. Participants (N = 184, Wave 1; N = 191, Wave 2; N = 178, Wave 3) reported their emotional states at five randomly selected times each day for a one week period. Using a measurement burst design, the one-week sampling procedure was repeated five and then ten years later. Cross-sectional and growth curve analyses indicate that aging is associated with more positive overall emotional well-being, with greater emotional stability and with more complexity (as evidenced by greater co-occurrence of positive and negative emotions). These findings remained robust after accounting for other variables that may be related to emotional experience (personality, verbal fluency, physical health, and demographic variables). Finally, emotional experience predicted mortality; controlling for age, sex, and ethnicity, individuals who experienced relatively more positive than negative emotions in everyday life were more likely to have survived over a 13 year period. Findings are discussed in the theoretical context of socioemotional selectivity theory.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0021285

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288590800003

    View details for PubMedID 20973600

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3332527

  • Father-child physiological concordance on two timescales is differentially associated with paternal characteristics. Psychophysiology Zhang, X., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Chen, M., Cole, P. M., Ram, N. 2022: e14073

    Abstract

    Conceptual work on interpersonal physiology suggests that the dynamic concordance between two person's physiological arousal may transpire on multiple timescales, and the timescale on which it unfolds may determine its psychological significance. The current study tested this hypothesis in the context of parent-child interaction by examining whether the concordance in their cardiac arousal on two timescales was differentially associated with parental characteristics. Using data from 98 fathers and their 3- to 5-year-old children during a task designed to frustrate young children, results indicated that the associations between cardiac concordance and fathers' self-reported parenting hassles emerged for the slower timescale (concordant increasing trends in arousal), whereas concordance on the faster timescale (concordant second-by-second reactivity) was associated with fathers' emotional clarity. Findings suggest that there may be multiple layers of concordant patterns in the dynamic associations between fathers' and children's cardiac arousal, which unfold on different timescales and bear different psychological significance.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/psyp.14073

    View details for PubMedID 35460527

  • Trajectories of infant positive emotion during the still face paradigm are associated with toddler temperament. Infant behavior & development Backer, P., Ram, N., Stifter, C. 2022; 67: 101716

    Abstract

    Guided by temperament and positive psychology theory, this study examined whether changes in infant expressed positive emotion were related to toddler temperamental positivity. At 4 months of age, infant expressions of positive, neutral and negative emotion were coded across the Still Face Procedure (SFP). Temperamental positivity was assessed at 24 months of age when toddlers participated in several tasks designed to elicit a range of emotions. Using a conditional multiphase nominal growth model that accommodated the structure of the SFP (free play, still face, and reunion episodes) and the categorical nature of the second-by-second repeated measurements of emotion, trajectories of infant emotion were derived and related to 24-month temperamental positivity. Results revealed that although temperamentally positive toddlers showed similar emotion trajectories overall to their peers differences emerged for the start of the still face episode. Temperamentally positive toddlers were more likely to show higher levels of positive (and lower levels of negative) emotion expression when mothers switched from free play to the still face episode. The data indicate that toddler temperamental positivity may be foreshadowed in early infancy by positive emotion expression immediately following an interactive rupture.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.infbeh.2022.101716

    View details for PubMedID 35398701

  • Physical Intimacy in Older Couples' Everyday Lives: Its Frequency and Links with Affect and Salivary Cortisol. The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences Kolodziejczak, K., Drewelies, J., Pauly, T., Ram, N., Hoppmann, C., Gerstorf, D. 2022

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES: Physical intimacy is important for communicating affection in romantic relationships. Theoretical and empirical work highlights linkages between physical intimacy, affect, and physiological stress among young and middle-aged adults, but not older adults. We examine physical intimacy and its associations with positive and negative affect and cortisol levels in the daily lives of older couples.METHOD: We applied actor-partner multilevel models to repeated daily life assessments of physical intimacy (experienced and wished) and affect obtained six times a day over seven consecutive days from 120 older heterosexual German couples (Mage= 71.6, SDage= 5.94). Physiological stress was indexed as total daily cortisol output, the area under the curve with respect to ground (AUCg).RESULTS: Physical intimacy experienced and wished were reported at the vast majority of occasions, but to different degrees at different times. Within persons, in moments when participants experienced more physical intimacy, older women reported less negative affect, whereas older men reported more positive affect. Between persons, higher overall levels of physical intimacy experienced were associated with higher positive affect and less negative affect among women and with lower daily cortisol output among men. A stronger wish for intimacy was related to more negative affect among both women and men, and to higher daily cortisol output among men.DISCUSSION: Physical intimacy is linked with mood and stress hormones in the daily life of older couples. We consider routes for future inquiry on physical intimacy among older adults.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/geronb/gbac037

    View details for PubMedID 35286380

  • Acting Like a Baby Boomer? Birth-Cohort Differences in Adults' Personality Trajectories During the Last Half a Century. Psychological science Brandt, N. D., Drewelies, J., Willis, S. L., Schaie, K. W., Ram, N., Gerstorf, D., Wagner, J. 2022: 9567976211037971

    Abstract

    Society and developmental theory generally assume that there are wide generational differences in personality. Yet evidence showing historical change in the levels of adult Big Five traits is scarce and particularly so for developmental change. We tracked adult trajectories of personality in 4,732 participants (age: M = 52.93 years, SD = 16.69; 53% female) from the Seattle Longitudinal Study (born 1883-1976) across 50 years. Multilevel models revealed evidence for historical change in personality: At age 56, later-born cohorts exhibited lower levels of maturity-related traits (agreeableness and neuroticism) and higher levels of agency-related traits (extraversion and openness) than earlier-born cohorts. Historical changes in agreeableness and neuroticism were more pronounced among young adults, but changes in openness were less pronounced. Cohort differences in change were rare and were observed only for agreeableness; within-person increases were more pronounced among later-born cohorts. Our results yield the first evidence for historical change in the Big Five across adulthood and point to the roles of delayed social-investment and maturity effects.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/09567976211037971

    View details for PubMedID 35192413

  • Screenertia: Understanding "Stickiness" of Media Through Temporal Changes in Screen Use COMMUNICATION RESEARCH Brinberg, M., Ram, N., Wang, J., Sundar, S., Cummings, J. J., Yeykelis, L., Reeves, B. 2022
  • Using Sequence Analysis to Identify Conversational Motifs in Supportive Interactions JOURNAL OF SOCIAL AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS Solomon, D., Jones, S., Brinberg, M., Bodie, G. D., Ram, N. 2022
  • Integrating dynamic and developmental time scales: emotion-specific autonomic coordination predicts baseline functioning over time. International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology Fry, C. M., Ram, N., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M. 1800

    Abstract

    Autonomic nervous system activity flexibly shifts and modulates behavior at multiple time scales, with some work suggesting that patterns of short-term reactivity contribute to long-term developmental change. However, previous work has largely considered sympathetic and parasympathetic systems independently, even though both systems contribute dynamically to the regulation of physiological arousal. Using physiological data obtained from 313 children in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade we examined whether within-person autonomic coordination during an emotion-inducing film task in kindergarten was associated with developmental change in resting autonomic activity. On average, these kindergarteners exhibited reciprocal coordination during the approach-oriented emotion (angry, happy) condition and a lack of coordination during the avoidance-oriented emotion (fear, sad) condition. Alignment with these patterns was associated with more typical autonomic development, specifically an increase in resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and a decrease in resting skin conductance (SCR) from kindergarten to 2nd grade; while lack of coordination during the approach condition was associated with a relatively delayed increase in resting RSA and a steeper decline in SCR, and reciprocal coordination during the avoidance condition was associated with a lack of RSA increase. Findings highlight the need for additional consideration of how moment-to-moment dynamics of autonomic coordination influence longer-term development, and suggest that early patterns of atypical arousal may portend dysregulation of developing physiological systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2021.12.001

    View details for PubMedID 34906622

  • A Dynamic Dyadic Systems Approach to Interpersonal Communication JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION Solomon, D., Brinberg, M., Bodie, G. D., Jones, S., Ram, N. 2021; 71 (6): 1001-1026
  • Cortisol trajectories measured prospectively across thirty years of female development following exposure to childhood sexual abuse: Moderation by epigenetic age acceleration at midlife. Psychoneuroendocrinology Shenk, C. E., Felt, J. M., Ram, N., O'Donnell, K. J., Sliwinski, M. J., Pokhvisneva, I., Benson, L., Meaney, M. J., Putnam, F. W., Noll, J. G. 1800; 136: 105606

    Abstract

    Lasting changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are a potential indication of the biological embedding of early life adversity, yet, prospective and repeatedly collected data are needed to confirm this relation. Likewise, integrating information from multiple biological systems, such as the HPA axis and the epigenome, has the potential to identify individuals with enhanced embedding of early life adversity. The current study reports results from the Female Growth and Development Study, a 30-year prospective cohort study of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Females exposed to substantiated CSA and a demographically-similar comparison condition were enrolled and resting state cortisol concentrations were sampled on seven subsequent occasions across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Differences in participants' cortisol trajectories were examined in relation to prior CSA exposure and DNA methylation-derived epigenetic age acceleration at midlife. Bilinear spline growth models revealed a trajectory where cortisol secretion increased until approximately age twenty and then declined into mid-life, consistent with normative trends. However, cortisol concentrations peaked at a lower level and transitioned to the decline phase at an earlier age for females in the CSA condition with increased epigenetic age acceleration. Robustness tests across three independent measures of epigenetic age acceleration demonstrated similar results for lower peak cortisol levels and earlier ages at transition. Results suggest that CSA is associated with significant changes in HPA-axis activity over extended periods of time with these changes most pronounced in females with accelerated epigenetic aging in mid-life. Implications for biological embedding models of early life adversity and adulthood health are discussed.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105606

    View details for PubMedID 34896740

  • Subjective Age and Attitudes Toward Own Aging Across Two Decades of Historical Time PSYCHOLOGY AND AGING Wahl, H., Drewelies, J., Duezel, S., Lachman, M. E., Smith, J., Eibich, P., Steinhagen-Thiessen, E., Demuth, I., Lindenberger, U., Wagner, G. G., Ram, N., Gerstorf, D. 2021

    Abstract

    A large body of empirical evidence has accumulated showing that the experience of old age is "younger," more "agentic," and "happier" than ever before. However, it is not yet known whether historical improvements in well-being, control beliefs, cognitive functioning, and other outcomes generalize to individuals' views on their own aging process. To examine historical changes in such views on aging, we compared matched cohorts of older adults within two independent studies that assessed differences across a two-decade interval, the Berlin Aging Studies (BASE; 1990/1993 vs. 2017/2018, each n = 256, Mage = 77) and the Midlife in the United States Study (MIDUS; 1995/1996 vs. 2013/14, each n = 848, Mage = 67). Consistent across four different dimensions of individuals' subjective views on aging (age felt, age appeared, desired age, and attitudes toward own aging) in the BASE and corroborated with subjective age felt and subjective age desired in the MIDUS, there was no evidence whatsoever that older adults of today have more favorable views on how they age than older adults did two decades ago. Further, heterogeneity in views on aging increased across two decades in the MIDUS but decreased in BASE. Also consistent across studies, associations of views on aging with sociodemographic, health, cognitive, and psychosocial correlates did not change across historical times. We discuss possible reasons for our findings, including the possibility that individual age views may have become increasingly decoupled from societal age views. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/pag0000649

    View details for Web of Science ID 000733640700001

    View details for PubMedID 34694838

  • Daily Stressors, Emotion Dynamics, and Inflammation in the MIDUS Cohort. International journal of behavioral medicine Reed, R. G., Mauss, I. B., Ram, N., Segerstrom, S. C. 2021

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: The current study (1) examined links between daily stressors and inflammation and (2) tested whether negative emotion dynamics (emotional variability) is one pathway through which stressors are linked to inflammation.METHOD: A cross-sectional sample of 986 adults (aged 35-86years, 57% female) from MIDUS reported daily stressor frequency and severity and negative emotions on 8 consecutive nights. Negative emotion variability (intraindividual standard deviation), controlling for overall mean level (intraindividual mean), was the focus of the current study. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were assayed from blood drawn at a clinic visit. Regression models adjusted for demographics, health factors, and the time between assessments.RESULTS: More severe daily stressors were associated with higher CRP, but this effect was accounted for by covariates. More frequent daily stressors were associated with lower IL-6 and CRP. In follow-up analyses, significant interactions between stressor severity and frequency suggested that participants with lower stressor severity and higher stressor frequency had the lowest levels of IL-6 and CRP, whereas those with higher stressor severity had thehighest levels of IL-6 and CRP, regardless of frequency. Daily stressor frequency and severity were positively associated with negative emotion variability, but variability was not linearly associated with inflammation and did not operate as a mediator.CONCLUSION: Among midlife and older adults, daily stressor frequency and severity may interact and synergistically associate with inflammatory markers, potentially due to these adults being advantaged in other ways related to lower inflammation, or in a pattern aligning with hormetic stress, where frequent but manageable stressors may yield physiological benefits, or both. Negative emotion variability does not operate as a mediator. Additional work is needed to reliably measure and test other emotion dynamic metrics that may contribute to inflammation.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12529-021-10035-9

    View details for PubMedID 34661859

  • Partner Pain and Affect in the Daily Lives of Older Couples. The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences Potter, S., Rocke, C., Gerstorf, D., Brose, A., Kolodziejczak, K., Hoppmann, C., Ram, N., Drewelies, J. 2021

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES: The susceptibility of older adults' affect to fluctuations in their own health (within-person health sensitivity) indicates how they handle everyday health challenges. In old age, affective well-being is often increasingly influenced by close others, yet it is unknown whether older adults' affect is additionally susceptible to fluctuations in their spouse's health (within-partnership health sensitivity) and the extent to which age and relationship satisfaction moderate such associations.METHODS: Parallel sets of multi-level actor-partner interdependence models are applied to self-reported health (feelings of pain/discomfort) and positive and negative affect, obtained 6 times a day over 7 consecutive days from two independent samples, the Berlin Couple Dynamics Study (N= 87 couples; Mage= 75 years; M relationship length= 46 years) and the Socio-Economic Panel Couple Dynamics Study (N= 151 couples; Mage= 72 years; M relationship length= 47 years).RESULTS: Husbands and wives had lower positive affect and higher negative affect in moments when they reported more pain (within-person health sensitivity) and when their respective spouse reported more pain (within-partnership health sensitivity). Tests for moderation suggest that within-person, but not within-partnership, health sensitivity is lower at older ages and higher with more satisfying relationships.DISCUSSION: These findings empirically illustrate lifespan notions that close relationships shape time-varying health-affect links and thus underscore the theoretical and practical utility of examining social contextual antecedents of older adults' everyday affective well-being.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/geronb/gbab188

    View details for PubMedID 34653253

  • Sensitization in situ: Identifying interindividual differences in adolescents intraindividual responsiveness to daily interparental conflict FAMILY RELATIONS Sloan, C. J., Fosco, G. M., Ram, N. 2021

    View details for DOI 10.1111/fare.12604

    View details for Web of Science ID 000704344300001

  • Healthy Aging-Relevant Goals: The Role of Person-Context Co-construction. The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences Wahl, H., Hoppmann, C. A., Ram, N., Gerstorf, D. 2021; 76 (Supplement_2): S181-S190

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES: This article considers how individuals' motivation for healthy aging manifests within the myriad of different contexts that older adults are embedded in as they move through later life.METHODS: Drawing on the concept of co-construction, we argue that persons and contexts both contribute to the emergence, maintenance, and disengagement from healthy aging relevant goals in adulthood and old age.RESULTS: To promote the understanding of such co-constructive dynamics, we propose four conceptual refinements of previous healthy aging models. First, we outline various different, often multidirectional, ways in which persons and contexts conjointly contribute to how people set, pursue, and disengage from health goals. Second, we promote consideration of context as involving unique, shared, and interactive effects of socio-economic, social, physical, care/service, and technology dimensions. Third, we highlight how the relevance, utility, and nature of these context dimensions and their role in co-constructing health goals change as individuals move through the Third Age, the Fourth Age, and a terminal stages of life. Finally, we suggest that these conceptual refinements be linked to established (motivational) theories of lifespan development and aging.DISCUSSIONS: In closing, we outline a set of research questions that promise to advance our understanding of the mechanisms by which contexts and aging persons co-construct healthy aging relevant goals and elaborate on the applied significance of this approach for common public health practices.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/geronb/gbab089

    View details for PubMedID 34515774

  • Visual Model Fit Estimation in Scatterplots: Influence of Amount and Decentering of Noise IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VISUALIZATION AND COMPUTER GRAPHICS Reimann, D., Blech, C., Ram, N., Gaschler, R. 2021; 27 (9): 3834-3838

    Abstract

    Scatterplots with a model enable visual estimation of model-data fit. In Experiment 1 (N = 62) we quantified the influence of noise-level on subjective misfit and found a negatively accelerated relationship. Experiment 2 showed that decentering of noise only mildly reduced fit ratings. The results have consequences for model-evaluation.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TVCG.2021.3051853

    View details for Web of Science ID 000679532000018

    View details for PubMedID 33444142

  • Positive and negative affect are associated with salivary cortisol in the everyday life of older adults: A quantitative synthesis of four aging studies. Psychoneuroendocrinology Pauly, T., Drewelies, J., Kolodziejczak, K., Katzorreck, M., Lucke, A. J., Schilling, O. K., Kunzmann, U., Wahl, H., Ditzen, B., Ram, N., Gerstorf, D., Hoppmann, C. A. 2021; 133: 105403

    Abstract

    Research on time-fluctuating links between positive affect and cortisol is inconsistent and mostly based on young to middle-aged samples. The current project investigated how moment-to-moment changes in positive and negative affect are associated with moment-to-moment changes in cortisol levels in older adults' daily lives and whether those associations are moderated by differences in health status (as indicated by the number of comorbidities). Affect and cortisol data collected in four separately conducted momentary assessment studies with parallel protocols were pooled to obtain a sample of N=476 individuals aged 56-88 years (Mage=71.9, SD=6.6; 52% female). Participants provided affect reports and collected salivary cortisol 5-7 times a day for a 7-day period and reported the presence of 13 different health conditions. Data were analyzed using multilevel models, with time since waking, daily behaviors associated with cortisol secretion, age, and sex controlled. Feeling more positive affect than usual was associated with lower momentary cortisol. In contrast, feeling more negative affect than usual was associated with higher momentary cortisol. Associations of momentary positive and negative affect with cortisol were weaker among participants in worse as compared to those in better health. Trait positive affectivity was associated with more curvature of waking cortisol profiles and trait negative affectivity was associated with smaller cortisol awakening responses. Findings suggest that HPA axis responses fluctuate with everyday changes in positive and negative affect in older adults, and that higher HPA reactivity may indicate preserved health in this age group.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105403

    View details for PubMedID 34536776

  • Leisure Boredom, Timing of Sexual Debut, and Co-Occurring Behaviors among South African Adolescents ARCHIVES OF SEXUAL BEHAVIOR Layland, E. K., Ram, N., Caldwell, L. L., Smith, E. A., Wegner, L. 2021; 50 (6): 2383-2394

    Abstract

    Sex during adolescence is normative; however, there are substantial individual differences in the timing and context of sexual debut. Leisure boredom is an underexplored correlate of sexual behavior that is associated with many adolescent health outcomes. We investigated if and how individual differences in leisure boredom may be associated with timing of sexual debut, and whether individuals engage in safe or risky behaviors at debut. Survival analysis, logistic regression, and Poisson regression were applied to eight-wave longitudinal data obtained from 3,088 South African adolescents (baseline Mage = 13.9 years) to examine associations between leisure boredom and cumulative hazard of sexual debut across adolescence, odds of co-occurring sexual behaviors, and incidence rate of co-occurring sexual risk behaviors at debut. Higher levels of leisure boredom were associated with elevated hazard cumulatively across adolescence. Higher levels of leisure boredom were also associated with lower odds of safe sex and higher odds of substance use during sex and transactional sex at sexual debut, but not casual sex or condom non-use at sexual debut. Although odds of singular risk behaviors were lower for girls than for boys, the association between leisure boredom and the number of risk behaviors at sexual debut was stronger for girls than boys. Higher trait leisure boredom was associated with elevated hazard of sexual debut, greater likelihood that risky behaviors accompanied sexual debut, and greater number of co-occurring risky behaviors at sexual debut. Results support leisure boredom as a potential target for preventing sexual risk behavior among South African adolescents.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10508-021-02014-8

    View details for Web of Science ID 000685404100001

    View details for PubMedID 34401994

  • Using technology to unobtrusively observe relationship development JOURNAL OF SOCIAL AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS Brinberg, M., Vanderbilt, R., Solomon, D., Brinberg, D., Ram, N. 2021
  • Sociohistorical Change in Urban Older Adults' Perceived Speed of Time and Time Pressure. The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences Lockenhoff, C. E., Drewelies, J., Duezel, S., Steinhagen-Thiessen, E., Demuth, I., Freund, A. M., Staudinger, U. M., Lindenberger, U., Wagner, G. G., Ram, N., Gerstorf, D. 2021

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES: Perceptions of time are shaped by sociohistorical factors. Specifically, economic growth and modernization often engender a sense of acceleration. Research has primarily focused on one time perception dimension (perceived time pressure) in one subpopulation (working-age adults), but it is not clear whether historical changes extend to other dimensions (e.g., perceived speed of time) and other subpopulations, such as older adults who are no longer in the workforce and experience age-related shifts in time perception. We therefore examined sociohistorical and age-related trends in two dimensions of time perception in two cohorts of urban older adults.METHOD: Using propensity score matching for age and education, samples were drawn from the Berlin Aging Study (1990-1993, n = 256, Mage = 77.49) and the Berlin Aging Study-II (2009-2014, n = 248, Mage = 77.49). Cohort differences in means, variances, covariance, and correlates of perceived speed of time and time pressure were examined using multigroup SEM.RESULTS: There were no cohort differences in the perceived speed of time, but later-born cohorts reported more time pressure than earlier-born cohorts. There were no significant age differences, but perceptions of speed of time were more heterogeneous in the 1990s than in the 2010s. Cohorts did not differ in how time perceptions were associated with sociodemographic, health, cognitive, and psychosocial correlates.DISCUSSION: These findings document sociohistorical trends toward greater perceived time pressure and reduced heterogeneity in perceived speed of time among later-born urban adults. Conceptualizations of social acceleration should thus consider the whole adult life span.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/geronb/gbab094

    View details for PubMedID 34180501

  • Do New Romantic Couples Use More Similar Language Over Time? Evidence from Intensive Longitudinal Text Messages. The Journal of communication Brinberg, M., Ram, N. 2021; 71 (3): 454-477

    Abstract

    The digital text traces left by computer-mediated communication (CMC) provide a new opportunity to test theories of relational processes that were originally developed through observation of face-to-face interactions. Communication accommodation theory, for example, suggests that conversation partners' verbal (and non-verbal) behaviors become more similar as relationships develop. Using a corpus of 1+ million text messages that 41 college-age romantic couples sent to each other during their first year of dating, this study examines how linguistic alignment of new romantic couples' CMC changes during relationship formation. Results from nonlinear growth models indicate that three aspects of daily linguistic alignment (syntactic-language style matching, semantic-latent semantic analysis, overall-cosine similarity) all exhibit exponential growth to an asymptote as romantic relationships form. Beyond providing empirical support that communication accommodation theory also applies in romantic partners' CMC, this study demonstrates how relational processes can be examined using digital trace data.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/joc/jqab012

    View details for PubMedID 34335083

  • Describing and Controlling Multivariate Nonlinear Dynamics: A Boolean Network Approach. Multivariate behavioral research Yang, X., Ram, N., Molenaar, P. C., Cole, P. M. 2021: 1–30

    Abstract

    We introduce a discrete-time dynamical system method, the Boolean network method, that may be useful for modeling, studying, and controlling nonlinear dynamics in multivariate systems, particularly when binary time-series are available. We introduce the method in three steps: inference of the temporal relations as Boolean functions, extraction of attractors and assignment of desirability based on domain knowledge, and design of network control to direct a psychological system toward a desired attractor. To demonstrate how the Boolean network can describe and prescribe control for emotion regulation dynamics, we applied this method to data from a study of how children use bidding to an adult and/or distraction to regulate their anger during a frustrating task (N=120, T=480seconds). Network control strategies were designed to move the child into attractors where anger is OFF. The sample shows heterogeneous emotion regulation dynamics across children in 22 distinct Boolean networks, and heterogeneous control strategies regarding which behavior to perturb and how to perturb it. The Boolean network method provides a novel method to describe nonlinear dynamics in multivariate psychological systems and is a method with potential to eventually inform the design of interventions that can guide those systems toward desired goals.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/00273171.2021.1911772

    View details for PubMedID 33874843

  • Screenomics: A Framework to Capture and Analyze Personal Life Experiences and the Ways that Technology Shapes Them. Human-computer interaction Reeves, B., Ram, N., Robinson, T. N., Cummings, J. J., Giles, C. L., Pan, J., Chiatti, A., Cho, M. J., Roehrick, K., Yang, X., Gagneja, A., Brinberg, M., Muise, D., Lu, Y., Luo, M., Fitzgerald, A., Yeykelis, L. 2021; 36 (2): 150-201

    Abstract

    Digital experiences capture an increasingly large part of life, making them a preferred, if not required, method to describe and theorize about human behavior. Digital media also shape behavior by enabling people to switch between different content easily, and create unique threads of experiences that pass quickly through numerous information categories. Current methods of recording digital experiences provide only partial reconstructions of digital lives that weave - often within seconds - among multiple applications, locations, functions and media. We describe an end-to-end system for capturing and analyzing the "screenome" of life in media, i.e., the record of individual experiences represented as a sequence of screens that people view and interact with over time. The system includes software that collects screenshots, extracts text and images, and allows searching of a screenshot database. We discuss how the system can be used to elaborate current theories about psychological processing of technology, and suggest new theoretical questions that are enabled by multiple time scale analyses. Capabilities of the system are highlighted with eight research examples that analyze screens from adults who have generated data within the system. We end with a discussion of future uses, limitations, theory and privacy.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/07370024.2019.1578652

    View details for PubMedID 33867652

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8045984

  • Concordance of mother-child respiratory sinus arrythmia is continually moderated by dynamic changes in emotional content of film stimuli. Biological psychology Ravindran, N., Zhang, X., Green, L. M., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Cole, P. M., Ram, N. 2021: 108053

    Abstract

    Evidence suggests that concordance between parent and child physiological states is an important marker of interpersonal interaction. However, studies have focused on individual differences in concordance, and we have limited understanding of how physiological concordance may vary dynamically based on the situational context. We examined whether mother-child physiological concordance is moderated by dynamic changes in emotional content of a film clip they viewed together. Second-by-second estimates of respiratory sinus arrythmia were obtained from mothers and children (N=158, Mchild age = 45.16 months) as they viewed a chase scene from a children's film. In addition, the film clip's negative emotional content was rated second-by-second. Results showed that mother-child dyads displayed positive physiological concordance only in seconds when there was an increase in the clip's negative emotional content. Thus, dynamic changes in mother-child physiological concordance may indicate dyadic responses to challenge.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2021.108053

    View details for PubMedID 33617928

  • Dyadic analysis and the reciprocal one-with-many model: Extending the study of interpersonal processes with intensive longitudinal data. Psychological methods Brinberg, M., Ram, N., Conroy, D. E., Pincus, A. L., Gerstorf, D. 2021

    Abstract

    Newly available data streams from experience sampling studies and social media are providing new opportunities to study individuals' dyadic relations. The "one-with-many" (OWM) model (Kenny et al., 2006; Kenny & Winquist, 2001) was specifically constructed for and is used to examine features of multiple dyadic relationships that one set of focal persons (e.g., therapists, physicians) has with others (e.g., multiple clients, multiple patients). Originally, the OWM model was constructed for and applied to cross-sectional data. However, the model can be extended to accommodate and may be particularly useful for the analysis of intensive repeated measures data now being obtained through experience sampling and social media. This article (a) provides a practical tutorial on fitting the OWM model, (b) describes how the OWM model is extended for analysis of repeated measures data, and (c) illustrates application of the OWM model using reports about interpersonal behavior and benefits individuals experienced in 64,111 social interactions during 9 weeks of study (N = 150). Our presentation highlights the utility of the OWM model for examining interpersonal processes in everyday life. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/met0000380

    View details for PubMedID 33475420

  • Political context is associated with everyday cortisol synchrony in older couples. Psychoneuroendocrinology Pauly, T., Kolodziejczak, K., Drewelies, J., Gerstorf, D., Ram, N., Hoppmann, C. A. 2020; 124: 105082

    Abstract

    Prior research with predominantly younger to middle-aged samples has demonstrated that couples' cortisol levels covary throughout the day (cortisol synchrony). Not much is known about cortisol synchrony in old age, and its potential broader societal correlates. The current study investigates associations between the socio-political context and cortisol synchrony as observed in older couples' daily lives. 160 older German couples (Mage =72 years, range: 56-89) provided salivary cortisol samples 7 times daily for a 7-day period. Socio-political context was quantified using state-specific voting data from the 2017 German federal election along the left-right political spectrum. Multilevel models controlling for diurnal cortisol rhythm, food intake, sex, age, body mass index, education, and individual-level political orientation revealed evidence for synchrony in partners' cortisol fluctuations (b=0.03, p<.001). The extent of cortisol synchrony was moderated by left-right political context, such that older couples living in a federal state placed further right exhibited greater cortisol synchrony than couples living in a federal state placed further left (b=0.01, p=.015). Findings point to the importance of considering the socio-political context of health-relevant biopsychosocial dynamics in old age. Future research needs to investigate mechanisms underlying such associations, including how politics shape opportunities and motivation for interdependencies that promote better or worse health.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.105082

    View details for PubMedID 33316693

  • In-Person Contacts and Their Relationship With Alcohol Consumption Among Young Adults With Hazardous Drinking During a Pandemic. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine Suffoletto, B., Ram, N., Chung, T. 2020

    Abstract

    PURPOSE: Social distancing strategies such as "stay-at-home" (SAH) orders can slow the transmission of contagious viruses like the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but require population adherence to be effective. This study explored adherence to SAH orders by young adults with hazardous drinking, and the role of alcohol consumption with in-person contacts on adherence.METHODS: Analyses included young adults with hazardous drinking (i.e., AUDIT-C score ≥3/4 for women/men; n= 50; ages 18-25) participating in a randomized trial in Pittsburgh, PA. Participants provided experience sampling reports on drinking twice per week from the week before SAH orders started on April 1, 2020 through 6weeks during the SAH period. We examined how in-person contact with non-household friends changed over time and event-level relationships between alcohol consumption and in-person contacts.RESULTS: The percentage of participants with any in-person contact in the week before SAH was 44% (95% confidence interval [CI] 30%-59%), which decreased to 29% (95% CI 15%-43%) in the first SAH week and increased to 65% (95% CI 46%-85%) by SAH week 6. Controlling for average levels of alcohol consumption, on days when young adults drank, participants reported more in-person contacts compared to nondrinking days.CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary data indicate that, among young adults with hazardous drinking, adherence to public policies like SAH orders is suboptimal, declines over time, and is associated with drinking events. Interventions aimed at enhancing young adults' adherence to social distancing policies are urgently needed.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.08.007

    View details for PubMedID 32943290

  • Discovering the Fabric of Supportive Conversations: A Typology of Speaking Turns and Their Contingencies JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Bodie, G. D., Jones, S. M., Brinberg, M., Joyer, A. M., Solomon, D., Ram, N. 2020
  • Rollman and Brent: Phonotype. Journal of general internal medicine Robinson, T. N., Reeves, B., Ram, N. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11606-020-05798-y

    View details for PubMedID 32221856

  • #Science: The potential and the challenges of utilizing social media and other electronic communication platforms in health care. Clinical and translational science Gijsen, V. n., Maddux, M. n., Lavertu, A. n., Gonzalez-Hernandez, G. n., Ram, N. n., Reeves, B. n., Robinson, T. n., Ziesenitz, V. n., Shakhnovich, V. n., Altman, R. n. 2019

    Abstract

    Electronic communication is becoming increasingly popular worldwide, as evidenced by its widespread and rapidly growing use. In medicine however, it remains a novel approach to reach out to patients. Yet, they have the potential for further improving current health care. Electronic platforms could support therapy adherence and communication between physicians and patients. The power of social media as well as other electronic devices can improve adherence as evidenced by the development of the app bant. Additionally, systemic analysis of social media content by Screenome can identify health events not always captured by regular health care. By better identifying these health care events we can improve our current health care system as we will be able to better tailor to the patients' needs. All these techniques are a valuable component of modern health care and will help us into the future of increasingly digital health care. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/cts.12687

    View details for PubMedID 31392837

  • Daily Actigraphy Profiles Distinguish Depressive and Interepisode States in Bipolar Disorder Clinical Psychological Science Gershon, A., Ram, N., Johnson, S. L., Harvey, A. G., Zeitzer, J. M. 2016; 4 (4): 641– 650

    Abstract

    Disruptions in activity are core features of mood states in bipolar disorder (BD). This study sought to identify activity patterns that discriminate between mood states in BD. Locomotor activity was collected using actigraphy for six weeks in participants with inter-episode BD type I (n=37) or participants with no lifetime mood disorders (n=39). The 24-hour activity pattern of each participant-day was characterized and within-person differences in activity patterns were examined across mood states. Results show that among participants with BD, depressive days are distinguished from other mood states by an overall lower activity level, and a pattern of later activity onset, a midday elevation of activity, and low evening activity. No distinct within-person activity patterns were found for hypomanic/manic days. Since activity can be monitored non-invasively for extended time periods, activity pattern identification may be leveraged to detect mood states in BD, thereby providing more immediate delivery of care.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/2167702615604613

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5022043