Jennifer Hirsch is interested in how people behave in, think about, and perceive close relationships. Her first line of research focuses on the need to belong and close relationships. People have a fundamental need to belong, but there are a variety of different goals individuals could form to fulfill this need. For instance, this need could be fulfilled by forming close, mutually responsive communal relationships with a small set of others. However, it could also be fulfilled by seeking general approbation from the broader social world. How individuals choose to pursue a sense of belonging, be it chronic or in the moment, influences their perceptions of and interactions with their close relationship partners.
Her other line of work regards the individual and relationship factors which influence an individual’s desire to express emotion to their partner. Emotion expression plays an important role in communicating needs to one’s partner. Understanding the context under which this occurs is key to understanding the relational influence on emotion.
She takes both an individual and dyadic approach to her research and uses a variety of methodologies (e.g. dyadic, self-report, longitudinal) and samples (e.g. online, community, college).