April 28, 2016

All About Relationships

Do birds of a feather flock together, or do opposites attract?

This was just one of the many questions about relationships posed to audience members at a lively and interactive Psychology Day, hosted by Adelphi University’s Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies on April 11, 2016.

In what has become an annual tradition, Adelphi students, faculty and alumni—most of them from the Derner Institute—gathered to delve into topics related to psychology study and practice.  The event’s overarching goal is to show undergraduates the depth and breadth of Derner’s offerings and the range of opportunities in the field. This year’s event, held at Adelphi’s Angello Alumni House, focused on relationships and covered a lot of ground.  

James Coan, Ph.D., Derner Psychology Day

James Coan, Ph.D., gave the keynote address at the Derner Institute’s Psychology Day.

Among the highlights were a “hot topics” panel discussion with Derner faculty and students and a keynote by award-winning research psychologist James Coan, Ph.D.

The Mental Health Association of Nassau County offered some improvisational theater. The day opened with an appreciation breakfast for supervisors from Derner’s undergraduate internship facilities and closed with a career roundtable and dessert reception with alumni. 

“Everyone comes together to celebrate psychology and learn from each other, and I think that is such a wonderful thing,” said Fallon Kane, an Adelphi senior who is majoring in psychology and criminal justice and was recently admitted to Derner’s Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology program.

During the lunchtime panel, faculty and students shared interesting findings from their studies of relationships—everything from online dating and infidelity to why relationships make us happy and how age influences motivation. Faculty speakers included Katherine Fiori, Ph.D., Laura Brumariu, Ph.D., M. Joy McClure, Ph.D., Lawrence Josephs, Ph.D., and Dominic Fareri, Ph.D.

The panelists also polled audience members on a variety of questions, including whether opposites really attract. (Research says no.)

A capacity crowd packed the room for the keynote talk by Dr. Coan, associate professor of clinical psychology and director of the Virginia Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Virginia, who spoke about social relationships and our brains—specifically the psychological benefits of social support. Through in-depth MRI studies, he has shown that in stressful situations, people feel less anxious when they hold hands with someone else—especially a romantic partner.

“We regulate each other,” Dr. Coan said. “When we are in each other’s presence we cause our body and our brain to behave differently.”

He is now examining the neurological mechanisms behind this phenomenon.

Carolyn Greenblatt, a Derner Ph.D. candidate, described Psychology Day as “a wonderful opportunity” to learn about new developments in the field and “to take stock of where we’ve been, where we are now and where we are going.”



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