An interview with Brandi Fink, a psychology researcher and an assistant professor at UNM Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Brandi has done a lot of work analyzing the behavior of couples and families experiencing problems, including issues of physical abuse, emotional distress, and drug/alcohol abuse. She once worked with the famous relationship researcher and therapist John Gottman. Brandi and I talk about behavioral indicators of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Links to the episode:
Topics discussed include:
- The goals of analyzing and logging the video-taped behaviors of couples/families
- Some of the common physical and verbal behaviors (like eye rolls and other indicators of contempt) that indicate trouble in a relationship, and those that can indicate relationship improvement or health
- How high heart rate variability (having a heart beat that changes speeds frequently) is linked to being more mentally disciplined and emotionally healthy
- Tips for improving a relationship
- Brain scan research Dr. Fink has done related to how alcohol affects the brain and how alcohol leads to relationship issues
- The challenges of creating a behavior coding system (not wanting to go too micro-level or too macro-level)
- Whether cultural differences can impact the analysis of behavior
Here are some resources and articles and studies related to some of the stuff we discussed:
- Dr. Fink’s study Frontal Alpha Asymmetry in Alcohol-Related Intimate Partner Violence
- Article titled At UNM, researchers hope to modernize domestic violence treatment, about Dr. Fink’s work.
- Wikipedia entry for John Gottman, considered the father of science-based couples therapy.
- About the SPAFF system for coding relationship behavior, which Gottman created.
- Paul Ekman’s FACS program for recognizing facial patterns
- Paul Ekman’s work on showing cross-culture alignment of facial expressions
- Gottman site’s explains the most important negative behaviors (contempt, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling).
- Information about heart-rate variability
- A summary of Alan Marlatt’s work on how one’s perceptions and ideas about alcohol affect how alcohol affects them
- The Simple Video Coder tool that Dr. Fink and her colleagues developed to aid in logging behavior