Tamara Afifi

Interpersonal Health Communication


Interpersonal Communication, Family Communication, Stress and Communication; Biosocial Markers of Stress, Resilience and Thriving; Information Regulation


Tamara Afifi is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California-Santa Barbara.  Her research focuses on communication patterns that foster resilience and thriving in families and other interpersonal relationships, with particular emphasis on:  (1) how people communicate when they are stressed and the impact of these communication patterns on personal and relational health and (2) information regulation (privacy, secrets, disclosure, avoidance, stress contagion).  Her work centers on families as communicative systems of stress and resilience.  She examines how environmental factors (e.g., divorce, refugee camps, natural disasters, fast paced families, chronic illness, the Great Recession) interact with family members’ communication patterns (e.g., conflict, stressful disclosures, social support, avoidance, verbal rumination, communal coping) to affect stress, adaptation, growth, and physical/mental/relational health.  Her most recent research involves testing her new theory called the Theory of Resilience and Relational Load.  She uses a variety of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods (e.g., quantitative lab and field studies; observational coding; surveys; physiological and biological data; interviews) and data analysis techniques in her research. 

Professor Afifi is the editor of Communication Monographs.  She has received numerous research awards, including 33 top paper awards, the Young Scholar Award from the International Communication Association in 2006, and the Brommel Award for a distinguished career of research in family communication from the National Communication Association in 2011.  In addition, she received the Franklin Knower Article Award in 2004, 2012, and 2018 from the Interpersonal Communication Division, the Distinguished Article award in 2013 from the Communication and Social Cognition Division, and the Distinguished Article Award from the Family Communication Division in 2008 from the National Communication Association.  Her research has appeared in numerous news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Men’s Health, the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Canadian LivingFamily Circle. and OptionB.org.  She is also incredibly passionate about teaching and has received several teaching awards, including a university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2009.