My research program is centered on understanding intimate relationship development from the transition to adulthood into midlife, with a focus on identifying the behaviors and beliefs that contribute to relational and individual health. The unifying theme, and most substantive scholarly contributions, of my research program involve challenging, testing, and refining widely accepted theoretical frameworks with cutting edge quantitative methods. I am primarily involved with two research projects.
Shortly after starting at the U of A, I was invited to join the research team for the Edmonton Transitions Study (ETS), which surveyed over 900 (at baseline) Edmontonians seven times from age 18 to age 43. The original aim of this project was to understand the transition from school to work, but as the participants aged, the focus shifted to other transitions over the life course, such as forming a committed intimate union and having children. This study received an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) to develop a series of manuscripts using these 25 year longitudinal data. I am a co-investigator on this project with Drs. Harvey Krahn and Nancy Galambos. I have developed manuscripts with these data examining how the development of mental health over the crucial transition to adulthood developmental stage (ages 18 to 25) is associated with couple relations decades later in midlife (Johnson, Galambos, & Krahn, 2014; 2015) and the interrelation between self-esteem and symptoms of depression over time (Johnson, Galambos, & Krahn, in press).
I am also quite fortunate to work with data from the German Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam) study. Pairfam began in 2008 with a representative sample of 12,402 focal participants from three birth cohorts (adolescence, young adulthood, and midlife). In addition, pairfam also recruited intimate partners, parents, and children for a subset of the focal participants. Survey data are collected annually and are scheduled to conclude in 2022 with 14 total assessments (more information is available on the study website: http://www.pairfam.de/en/). In 2014, I received an Insight Development Grant from SSHRC to prepare these unique data for analysis and develop a program of research based on this study. So far, publications based on pairfam data have examined longitudinal associations between sex and men’s housework contributions (Johnson, Galambos, & Anderson, 2016), links between support provided to a partner during times of stress, commitment, and willingness to make sacrifices for a partner (Johnson & Horne, 2016), and the ordering of couple conflict behaviors and each partner’s confidence in their union (Johnson & Anderson, 2015).
I am currently accepting hardworking graduate students interested in studying couples.