Nilam Ram's research while affiliated with Stanford University and other places

Publications (290)

Article
Node-link diagrams enable visual assessment of homophily when viewers can identify and evaluate the relative number of intra-cluster and inter-cluster links. Our online experiment shows that a new design with link type encoded edge color leads to more accurate perception of homophily than a design with same-color edges.
Article
Objective: Accumulated evidence indicates both stable and malleable parts of inter-individual differences in the broad Big Five domains. Less is known, however, about stability and change at the more diversified facet level. With the current study, we fill this gap by investigating personality stability and change across midlife and old age. Meth...
Article
Objectives: Deviations from normative trajectories of receptive language abilities following early life adversity (ELA) may indicate an elevated risk for advanced cognitive aging and related morbidities. Accelerated epigenetic aging at midlife may further identify those at greatest risk for advanced cognitive aging following ELA. We examined wheth...
Article
This study investigated the associations between momentary emotion dynamics and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Using a sample of 61 couples (N = 122 individuals) in which all individuals were trauma-exposed and at least one partner screened positive for PTSD, we examined the intra- and interpersonal regulation of vocally encoded emo...
Article
This study examines how individuals across income classes encountered payday lenders’ appeals online and what their smartphone use reveals about their psychological reactions to these messages. We utilized novel Screenomics data, comprehensive sequences of screenshots (N = 13,498,584) collected every 5 seconds from the smartphones of lower-income a...
Article
Bidirectional links between sleep quality and emotional experiences are complex and not yet well understood-especially in old age when substantial changes occur in sleep and emotional experiences. Because previous research rarely considered the role of stressors, we examine if older adults' sleep quality is directly associated with subsequent negat...
Article
History-graded increases in older adults’ levels of cognitive performance are well documented, but little is known about historical shifts in within-person change: cognitive decline and onset of decline. We combined harmonized perceptual-motor speed data from independent samples recruited in 1990 and 2010 to age-match 2,008 longitudinal observation...
Article
Self-regulation often refers to the executive influence of cognitive resources to alter prepotent responses. The ability to engage cognitive resources as a form of executive process emerges and improves in the preschool-age years while the dominance of prepotent responses, such as emotional reactions, begins to decline from toddlerhood onward. Howe...
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Research has recognized that parental emotion regulation influences whether parents respond sensitively to their children in challenging parenting situations. However, parental emotion regulation is usually assessed using questionnaires that are not about parenting, rather than through examining parents' reaction to specific parenting situations th...
Article
Child temperament appears to evoke specific parenting behaviors that contribute to child development. However, questions remain about whether individual differences in children's temperamental self-regulation, namely, effortful control (EC), shape moment-to-moment parent-child interaction dynamics. Accordingly, we examined whether differences in ch...
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An earlier trial of a school-based, preventative intervention, HealthWise South Africa, demonstrated some efficacy in preventing adolescent drinking and smoking in the Western Cape, South Africa. This was followed by the current implementation trial, which examined how implementation support conditions influenced adolescent drinking and smoking beh...
Article
Background Young adults’ connectedness with and independence from parents have important implications for both their development and family relationships. Although technology plays an increasingly important role in these dynamics, there are few direct observations of how connectedness and independence unfold in the digital world. Little is known of...
Preprint
We expand the usually cross-sectional perspective on dual-tasking performance toinclude both intra- and interpersonal variability, which should capture within-persondynamics and psychological processes better. Two simple tasks, first as single-, then as dualtasks, were performed by 58 participants over 20 session. We found positive relationships be...
Article
Although impulsivity is associated with an increased willingness to make risky decisions, uncertainty intolerance may also contribute to maladaptive decision-making behavior, where individuals neglect to pursue potential rewards even when probabilities for success are in their favor. Several theories have sought to explain the neural systems that g...
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To advance the understanding of how parental self‐regulation contributes to their role in supporting children's development, this study proposes a model of the dynamic processes involved in parental self‐regulation. Based on time‐series data from 157 mothers and their 30‐ to 60‐month‐old children (49.7% female; 96% White; data collected June 2017–D...
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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 whethe...
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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 affec...
Article
Scatterplots overlayed with a nonlinear model enable visual estimation of model-data fit. Although statistical fit is calculated using vertical distances, viewers subjective fit is often based on shortest distances. Our results suggest that adding vertical lines (lollipops) supports more accurate fit estimation in the steep area of model curves (ht...
Article
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 pe...
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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%...
Article
Descriptions of moment-by-moment changes in attention contribute critical elements to theory and practice about how people process media. We introduce a new concept called screenertia and use new screen-capture methodology to empirically evaluate its occurrence. We unobtrusively obtained 400,000+ screenshots of 30 participants’ laptop screens every...
Article
This study demonstrates how sequence analysis, which is a method for identifying common patterns in categorical time series data, illuminates the nonlinear dynamics of dyadic conversations by describing chains of behavior that shift categorically, rather than incrementally. When applied to interpersonal interactions, sequence analysis supports the...
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Old age is a developmental phase in which physical vulnerability increases and discrete affective states are uniquely important. The current project combines data from four studies (total N = 476 participants) to investigate within-person fluctuations in salivary cortisol (a marker of physiological arousal), seven discrete affective states, and the...
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To examine historical changes in 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, 1990/93 vs. 2017/18, each n = 256, Mage = 77) and the Midlife in the United States Study (MIDUS, 1995/96 vs. 2013/14, each n = 848, Mage =...
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Multiple-time scale studies provide new opportunities to examine how developmental processes evolving on different cadences are intertwined. Theories about age-related accumulation of stress suggest that long-term progressive loss of cognitive resources should manifest in and shape short-term daily affective experiences. Applying growth modeling an...
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Theories suggest that with increasing age, adults more effectively regulate their emotions and seek to limit high physiological arousal. Prior research indicates physical activity attenuates negative affect reactivity to stress, but also increases physiological arousal. The present study extends prior work by examining age-related differences and c...
Article
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 dyna...
Article
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 poten...
Article
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...
Article
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 35-86 years, 57% female) from MIDUS reported daily stressor freq...
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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 fluctuatio...
Article
This article articulates conceptual and methodological strategies for studying the dynamic structure of dyadic interaction revealed by the turn-to-turn exchange of messages between partners. Using dyadic time series data that capture partners’ back-and-forth contributions to conversations, dynamic dyadic systems analysis illuminates how individuals...
Article
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 f...
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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 associa...
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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 ti...
Article
Texting plays an increasingly important role in romantic relationships. Along with the increased use and impact of technology in and on relationships, technology provides new approaches to observe and study relationships. This study demonstrates the potential for using unobtrusive measures of texting obtained through mobile data donation for the st...
Article
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 ot...
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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 a...
Article
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...
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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 mo...
Article
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.
Conference Paper
Old age is a developmental phase in which physical vul-nerability increases and discrete affective states are uniquely important. The current project combines data from four studies (total N = 476 participants) to investigate within-person fluctuations in salivary cortisol (a marker of physio-logical arousal), seven discrete affective states, and t...
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Full-text available
Human development is shaped by socio-cultural contexts and the historical changes therein. Empirical reports suggest that old age has gotten “younger”, both on behavioral measures and in people’s perception. Here, we move one step further and shed light on key quality of life facets not yet well understood. We compare matched cohorts (each n = 250,...
Conference Paper
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Social units such as couples exist within a broader societal and cultural context. Characteristics of this macro-level context may indirectly shape couple dynamics by influencing opportunities and motivation for interdependence, e.g. through legislation and prevalent norms/values. The current study investigates the association between political con...
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Experience sampling paradigms provide new opportunity for early identification of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We investigated two research questions: (1) is time to complete a repeatedly administered survey (i.e., questionnaire-based everyday reaction time, q*bert) a reliable and valid measure of cognition? (2) does this measure distinguish MC...
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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 cort...
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Grounded in theory and research on the role of adolescent family experiences in young adult educational attainment, this study took the novel step of synthesizing results from prior studies and using a machine learning (ML) approach to address three questions: (1) By incorporating adolescent family experience factors examined across prior studies i...
Article
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 i...
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This study examines messages that problem disclosers and supportive listeners enact during conversations about everyday stressors. We coded 402 dyadic interactions between strangers, friends, and romantic couples using Stiles’s (1992) verbal response modes (VRM) and Burleson’s (1982) verbal person centeredness (PC) typology to explore whether (a) l...
Preprint
We introduce the Boolean network method, a discrete-time dynamical system method, to model the nonlinear dynamics in multivariate systems and to control the system moving to desired state(s). We introduce this method in three steps: (1) inference of the temporal relations between multiple binary variables as Boolean functions, (2) extraction of att...
Article
Growing attention is being given to understanding factors that promote individuals’ happiness, life satisfaction, engagement, and meaning in life. This study examined the mutual benefits of a close, connected relationship for parents’ and adolescents’ daily subjective well-being (SWB) and eudaimonia (EUD). Using multilevel actor-partner interdepend...
Article
Few longitudinal studies examine how changes in parent–child relationships are associated with changes in youth internalizing problems. In this longitudinal study, we investigated how developmental trends (linear change) and year-to-year lability (within-person fluctuations) in parental warmth and hostility across Grades 6 to 8 predict youth intern...
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We investigated whether similarity between partners in positive and negative affect is associated with the perception that one manages everyday life well together as a couple (dyadic mastery). To this end, we used data from 99 older couples (mean age = 75 years; mean length of relationship = 45 years) obtained 5 times a day over 7 consecutive days...
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Neuroticism is associated with heightened reactivity to social stressors. However, little is known about the micro-processes through which neuroticism shapes – and is shaped by – affective experiences in close relationships. We examine the extent to which momentary affect is coupled with one’s relationship partner, whether the strength of this coup...
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Human functioning and development are shaped by sociocultural contexts and by the historical changes that occur in these contexts. Over the last century, sociocultural changes such as increases in early life education have profoundly reshaped normative developmental sequences. In this article, we first briefly review how history-graded changes have...
Article
Children should become more effective at regulating emotion as they age. Longitudinal evidence of such change, however, is scarce. This study uses a multiple-time scale approach to test the hypothesis that the self-regulation of emotion—the engagement of executive processes to influence the dynamics of prepotent emotional responses—becomes more eff...
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Experience sampling methods are widely used in clinical psychology to study affective dynamics in psychopathology. The present study examined whether affect ratings (valence and arousal) differed as a function of assessment schedule (signal- versus event-contingent) in a clinical sample and considered various approaches to modeling these ratings. A...
Article
Although anatomical research clearly demonstrates the ability of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system to independently influence cardiac function, little research has examined whether coordinated activation is typical or whether the extent of autonomic coordination is situationally dependent. This study exami...
Article
To understand how people use digital media, researchers need to move beyond screen time and capture everything we do and see on our screens. To understand how people use digital media, researchers need to move beyond screen time and capture everything we do and see on our screens. A teenage participant plays a game on her phone as others watch duri...
Article
Studies of historical and societal influences on cognitive aging generally document that later-born cohorts outperform earlier-born cohorts on tests of fluid cognitive performance. It is often noted how advances in educational attainment in childhood and adolescence may contribute to these historical improvements in cognitive aging. Less is known a...
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Life Span theory posits that sociohistorical contexts shape individual development. In line with this proposition, cohort differences favoring later-born cohorts have been widely documented for cognition and health. However, little is known about historical change in how key resources of psychosocial functioning such as control beliefs develop in o...
Article
Parent-adolescent conflict has been studied both as a precursor of long-term macrolevel developmental risks and as an outcome of microlevel, moment-to-moment interaction patterns. However, the family-level processes underlying the maintenance or regulation of conflict in daily life are largely overlooked. A meso-level understanding of parent-adoles...
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Development and aging are the product of a process wherein an individuals’ functional components co-act to produce change. System dynamics can be described using a variety of methods. In this paper we illustrate how Boolean network methods may be used to describe the sequences of emotion and behavior states that lead to a stable equilibrium – e.g.,...
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Studies of historical change on cognitive aging generally document that later-born cohorts outperform earlier-born cohorts on tests of fluid cognitive performance. It is often noted how advances in educational attainment contribute to this finding. Over the last century, work demands and characteristics have changed profoundly, with shifts from a m...
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Aging is the product of numerous dynamic processes that span multiple domains of functioning (e.g., biological, psychological, social), multiple levels of analysis, and multiple time-scales. Scientific inquiry in many fields has benefited from articulation and analysis of complex systems. This symposium brings together a collection of papers that i...
Article
Aims: 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. Sample: Over 500,000 smartphone screens...
Article
Life span developmental theories suggest that as individuals age, they accumulate knowledge about how to deploy emotion regulation (ER) strategies effectively and learn how to match their ER strategy use with changes in situational demands. Using an event-contingent experience sampling design wherein 150 adults Age 18 to 89 years reported on 64,213...
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An individual's emotions system can be conceived of as a synchronized, coordinated, and/or emergent combination of physiology, experience, and behavioral components. Together, the interplay among these components produce emotional experiences through coordinated excitatory positive feedback (i.e., the mutual amplification of emotion concordance) an...
Article
Although the functionalist perspective on emotional development posits that emotions serve adaptive functions, empirical tests of the role of anger mostly focus on how anger contributes to dysfunction. Developmentally, as children gain agency and skill at emotion regulation between the ages of 36 months and 48 months, their modulation of anger may...
Article
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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...
Article
Studying age‐related change in psychosocial behavior is difficult because manifestation differs with development. While the use of age‐appropriate measurement instruments addresses developmental differences, changes in measurement also challenge researchers’ ability to study developmental trajectories. Leveraging 8‐occasion data from 262 girls (bas...