EWING — Navigating love can be difficult at any age — even more so during young adulthood.

A lab running on the campus of The College of New Jersey continues its quest to better understand the trials and tribulations, as well as the successes, of romantic relationships that occur during emerging adulthood.

"It's such an important time for laying down the skills you can use, for example, in dealing with conflict," said Candice Feiring, faculty mentor of the Romantic Relationships Research Lab.

Most recently, lab efforts focused on the potential impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Findings are still being completed, based on interviews that have been occurring since last fall, but Feiring and her student researchers can say with confidence that the pandemic actually helped many participants grow closer to their partners.

"The amount of bonding that was done throughout COVID was pretty significant," said Jose Cancel, class of 2022.

About 10 psychology students are involved with the lab at all times. Feiring may design the study, but it's the students who collect data. The lab generally relies on narrative from participants, instead of conducting surveys. The interviews can involve some pretty sensitive material, Feiring said, so the students have to be trained on interview protocol and active listening.

"I've had students who have worked with me to write up publications, so they get to be co-authors," Feiring said.

Feiring said the RRR Lab is one of several sponsored by faculty members at TCNJ, but students are drawn to this topic because of their own experiences with relationships, both negative and positive.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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