There’s a growing scientific consensus that feeling socially connected is key not only for mental but physical health—Yet a majority of Americans struggle with loneliness. 

So what can we do as individuals, in families, in communities, in organizations, and in society to promote social connection?

This newsletter applies the findings of studies across disciplines to explain how human connection works, and explores ways that we can enhance connection at both an individual and a public health level.

Meaning: I will nerd out on the science of social interaction, and offer tips around how we can make those interactions more meaningful for ourselves and those in our wider communities.

A selection of topics you can expect to read about here:

  • The kinds of social interactions that promote a sense of connection

  • The mental and emotional processes involved in social connection

  • How people form, maintain, and deepen relationships of all kinds

  • How we can find connection in our current chaotic and technology saturated landscape

  • How the social contexts of institutions, culture, and society impact the way we connect

  • Explorations of policy that may improve public health efforts around social connection

  • How we might develop more caring and connected cultures

About Me:

I’m a research psychologist and educator based in Minneapolis. I earned a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison, during which I conducted research as a visiting scholar with the Social Interaction Lab in the Psychology Department of University of Minnesota. My training focused around what allows for quality relationships for families, romantic partners, and friends, as well as how these relationships impact who we become across the arc of our lives.

My dissertation explored how adults experience moments of meaningful connection in everyday life, and part of the purpose of this newsletter is to share some of the published and unpublished data and analysis from the series of quantitative and qualitative studies that I conducted for that project.

I’m also a visual artist so I will populate this newsletter with my own drawings to help illustrate topics, and hopefully make the whole endeavor aesthetically enjoyable. 

Thanks so much for being here—I so appreciate you giving me the opportunity to make the research on social connection more visible!

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Feeling socially connected is vital for happiness, health, and positive human development. A research psychologist explores how we cultivate moments of connection, positive relationships, and cultures/societies that allow social connection to flourish.


Dave Smallen

Dave Smallen is a research psychologist and educator who studies and communicates about relationships and human connection. He holds a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison.