My research is broadly organized around two streams, both related to families. The first considers factors (particularly household mobility) that can have negative consequences for individual and families. The other explores marital and other relationship dynamics as situated around interpersonal relationships, close friendships, and individuals' sexual, relationship, and life satisfaction. 

Family and Mobility

My primary line of research demonstrates how one of life’s most stressful events, household mobility, affects individuals' health and well-being, net of important underlying mechanisms, including socioeconomic status (Gillespie and Bostean 2013) and the loss of social capital (Gillespie 2013). I also explore how intergenerational solidarity mediates these "mobility effects" based on the timing of a move in adolescence (Gillespie 2014). In related research, I identify changes in parenting style and parental monitoring following household relocation (Gillespie 2015). I find that mothers and fathers change their parenting style following a move and that these changes are most salient for father-son and mother-daughter dyads. I'm currently leveraging on these models to understand how structural circumstances affect family processes following immigration to the United States (Bostean and Gillespie, 2017). Altogether, my research on family and mobility combines intergenerational processes (parent-child solidarity) and intragenerational processes (age effects of mobility) to examine the effects of relocation on individuals and families. This research forms the basis of my recent book, Household Mobility in America: Patterns, Processes, and Outcomes (Palgrave 2017).

Another line of research on family outcomes, funded by an National Science Foundation grant, considers family dynamics in an international context.  Knowing that geographic proximity is an important predictor of resource exchanges between parents and adult children, I examined a potential selection effect; namely, the extent to which children who are emotionally close to parents choose to live nearby. Using the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study while a visiting scholar at Utrecht University, I found that parents and grown children who live close together have warm and enduring relationships that predispose them to help one another (Gillespie and van der Lippe 2015). I extended this research using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to test the cohesion-proximity hypothesis in the United States (Gillespie and Treas 2017). Using two-step Heckit models that accounted for selection into (or out of) parent-child coresidence, we found support for my original cohesion-proximity hypothesis while also testing the suitability of various statistical models traditionally used to examine parent-child proximity.

Interpersonal Relationships

A secondary theme of my research is motivated by a large social interaction literature that examines the influence of social and demographic factors on individuals' relationship and life satisfaction, as well as sexual satisfaction and sex frequency.  I've contributed to these literatures by showing how relationship, sexual, and life satisfaction are influenced by online sexual activity (Grov, Gillespie, Royce, and Lever 2011), Internet personals (Lever, Grov, Royce, and Gillespie 2008), gendered evaluations of fairness in household arrangements (Gillespie, Peterson, and Lever, under review), as well as close friendship networks among heterosexuals (Gillespie et al. 2014) and gay men, lesbians, and bisexual men and women (Gillespie et al. 2015).  Additional research explores how social context patterns students' social experiences in a high-stakes, elite university setting (Thiele and Gillespie 2017).

My current work in this line of social interaction research uses mixed-method approaches to explore predictors of high-quality sex lives among long-term romantic partners (Frederick, Lever, Gillespie, and Garcia 2017), older adults (Gillespie 2017a; Gillespie 2017b; Gillespie, Hibbert, and Sanguinetti 2017), and gay men and lesbians (Frederick, Gillespie, Garcia, and Lever, in progress). These studies identify sexual behavior risk patterns that are often neglected in studies of sexual satisfaction and sex frequency.

Overall, my substantive body of work makes a broad contribution to the social sciences, primarily by emphasizing the factors that contribute to child and family well-being and sexual, relationship, and life satisfaction. One common thread is that, when possible, I approach analyses from interdisciplinary, international, and intergenerational perspectives. This research contributes to social policy and clinical practice by identifying risk factors associated with individual, family, and relationship well-being that can be targeted in policy and prevention efforts.

Research Methods & Design

I'm trained in quantitative and qualitative research methods and have published research in these areas using sophisticated statistical modeling, ethnographic research, in-depth interviews, and narrative analysis. A recently coauthored text, geared toward graduate and advanced undergraduate research methods students, details the process of survey design, implementation, and data management and analysis using SPSS, SAS, and Stata (Ruel, Wagner, and Gillespie, The Practice of Survey Research: Theory and Applications, 2016). 

Another forthcoming text, currently in progress, details statistical procedures and concepts for social, behavioral, and health science researchers (Wagner and Gillespie, Using and Interpreting Statistics in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, Sage Publications).