Conference on relationship research to be held at CSU mid July

Samantha Ye

Family, friends or coworkers: Relationships of all forms will be examined and presented on at the 2018 International Association for Relationship Research conference held at Colorado State University July 12-16.

Relationship research is the scientific study of human relationships and relationship processes, and includes “a diverse array of topics and theoretical perspectives,” according to the IARR website.


On the conference schedule are sessions on everything from the role of culture in familial relationships to understanding what makes someone’s personality “cute.”

All of the presentations are based on research papers recently or about to be published, said Jennifer Harman, co-chair of the CSU conference organizing committee and associate professor in the CSU department of psychology. That means all of the data is still fairly new to the field.

“We wanted this to be an opportunity for people just to learn about relationship science from the best people we have,” Harman said.

The keynote speakers are Guy Bodenmann, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, Dr. Tamara Afifi, professor in the department of communication at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Kira Birditt, research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, and Jeffry Simpson, professor in the department of psychology at the University of Minnesota.

There will also be a selection of student work displayed in poster presentations, Harman said.

“The conference provides an excellent opportunity for researchers to meet people not only in their own field, meet other relationship researchers in other departments from around the world, and share ideas in a more casual, kind of laid-back environment,” Harman said. “A lot of really great collaborations and ideas have come out of these conferences over the years and so it’s exciting to host that here in Fort Collins.”

Previously, the biennial conferences have been held mostly in larger cities such as Toronto or Chicago; however, Harman secured the bid for Fort Collins this year by bringing the conference back to a college town setting.

Historically, conference attendees have numbered over 500 and represent 20 to 30 different countries, Harman said. This year, they have already hit the conference goal of 550 registrants.

Although many of the attendees are researchers, Harman said the event is also a great opportunity for students considering graduate school.  

“It’s a really nice way of seeing the work people are working on…and you can talk to them about their graduate program, talk about what new stuff they’re working on in their lab, and explore whether they’re accepting new students,” Harman said.


You do not have to be an IARR member to attend the conference.

Early registration has ended and late registration will be open on the conference website until June 29, after which online registration closes. Those who still wish to attend can register at the door for an additional $40 fee.

“I think it’s just exciting that we have so many amazing researchers studying problems that people face in the relationships that are most important to them,” Harman said. “I think there is something very useful about attending conferences like this: to see how what people are (researching) applies to their own lives.”

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at or on Twitter @samxye4.