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Jennifer Priem

Associate Professor of Communication

Preim’s research focuses on connecting supportive interactions with cortisol recovery following a stressful experience.

Biography

Healthy communication in a relationship is a powerful weapon against the wear and tear of daily stress. In Jennifer Priem’s lab, salivary samples are used to indicate when the stress hormone cortisol increases and when it decreases during supportive conversations between romantic partners. Her research focuses on determining which specific qualities of these interactions can be linked to physiological benefits as measured by a reduction in cortisol levels. On Psychology Today, Read More »

Healthy communication in a relationship is a powerful weapon against the wear and tear of daily stress. In Jennifer Priem’s lab, salivary samples are used to indicate when the stress hormone cortisol increases and when it decreases during supportive conversations between romantic partners. Her research focuses on determining which specific qualities of these interactions can be linked to physiological benefits as measured by a reduction in cortisol levels. On Psychology Today, Jennifer’s blog, Stressing Communication, tackles the questions related conversations, relationships, health and stress reduction.

Media Appearances

How to support your partner through stressful times

The Citizen

December 12, 2018

“The fastest stress recovery comes from explicit messages,” says Priem. “When a partner is stressed, they are unable to focus on interpreting messages well. Clarity and eye contact help.”

Want to help your partner stress less? Listen from the heart

Science Daily

February 6, 2018

When we feel supported, we feel less stress. But sometimes we think we are being supportive of a romantic partner and we're not. "Cookie cutter support messages don't really work," said Priem. "Stress creates a frame through which messages are interpreted. Support that is clear and explicit in validating feelings and showing interest and concern is most likely to lower cortisol levels and increase feelings of wellbeing and safety. If you aren't seeing improvement in your partner's anxiety, you may need to change your approach."

New study aims to help couples work through stress

WFDD

February 8, 2018

Jennifer Priem joined WFDD’s David Ford to discuss her research on supportive communication. “There’s a lot to get past when people are working through that frame of stress to see supportive messages as very supportive or very positive messages,” said Priem. “The most explicit messages are the ones that tend to be picked up most easily as supportive.”

Stress hormones drop when partners engage in these support techniques

Care2

February 12, 2018

Jennifer Priem points out that partners have the power to reduce certain stress hormones, such as cortisol, in their partners by engaging in certain supportive techniques. Saliva samples can determine the increase and decrease of cortisol levels, giving a unique look into how certain interactions affect its rise and fall.

Reducing stress in relationships

WGHP

February 13, 2018

Priem was interviewed on what features of supportive conversation may help lower cortisol and reduce stress in a relationship between dating partners.

Articles

What Is Supportive About Supportive Conversation? Qualities of Interaction That Predict Emotional and Physiological Outcomes

What is supportive about supportive conversation? This study assesses how qualities of supportive interactions, operationalized from the perspectives of the support receiver and third-party observers, predict emotional improvement and cortisol recovery following a stressful experience.

Expert Pitches

This Valentine’s Day, give the gift of great conversation

February 8, 2019

When is the last time you and your partner made time to talk? Or, more important, made time to...

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More Information

Areas of Expertise

  • Dyadic stress and coping
  • Emotional support
  • Features of supportive communication
  • Physiological responses to supportive communications
  • Stress recovery
  • Emotional recovery

Education

Pennsylvania State University: Ph.D., Interpersonal Communication, Stress, and Health

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: M.A., Interpersonal/Organizational Communication Certificate of Mediation and Negotiation

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: B.A., Psychology

Contact

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