Click here to view Elizabeth's research publications. Elizabeth is an assistant professor of Communication at Michigan State University. Elizabeth co-founded the Family Communication and Relationships Lab with Dr. Kristina Scharp in 2015. The lab houses a collection of interdisciplinary researchers and students from across the globe interested in understanding the complex dynamics of family communication in a variety of contexts. Elizabeth's research focuses on communication processes in close relationships, especially in the context of family.
"Black Sheep": Marginalization in Families
A specific and especially challenging family process I study is how family members become marginalized from their families of origin over time. I have interviewed and surveyed people who self-identify as the "black sheep" of their family to theorize about the role of communication in the process of family member marginalization and discover meanings of marginalization, types of marginalized family members, and relationship change trajectories in these tumultuous family relationships (Dorrance Hall, 2018). I have identified five resilience strategies marginalized family members used to cope with their position in the family (Dorrance Hall, 2017). More recently, I have published about family distancing more generally with Dr. Scharp (Scharp & Dorrance Hall, 2017; 2019) including the concepts of estrangement and parent-child alienation.
Marginalization and Resilience at Work
Along with Dr. Patricia Gettings, I have examined the marginalization women experience at work through micro- and macro-aggressive communication and discrimination in the workplace. In addition, Dr. Gettings and I have sought to understand how women cope with this type of work environment and persist in traditionally male career fields. To do this, we have identified various resilience strategies women use ranging from reaching out to their social networks for support to proving their worth by working "extra" hard. In this same line of research we have examined the career narratives of women in traditionally male careers to understand how their career identities have shifted and fluctuated over time (if at all).
Help Seeking Conversations & Health
Elizabeth's research has focused on the process by which interpersonal communication influences health decisions and behaviors. She has worked to understand the influence of the multiple goals family members hold and the message features they employ when encouraging their military service member to seek behavioral healthcare (Wilson, Dorrance Hall, et al., online first). Another study uncovered conversational dilemmas and strategies family members use to encourage help seeking among military service members (Wilson, Gettings, Dorrance Hall, & Pastor, 2015). This paper was given the Award for Excellence in Family Research from Purdue University in 2016. Currently, Elizabeth is conducting interviews with partners of service members to better understand the process of repeated conversations encouraging service members to seek behavioral healthcare.
For more information on Elizabeth's publications and research interests, please visit her profile on ResearchGate here.