Sara Algoe is an assistant professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, she is the director of the Emotions and Social Interactions in Relationships (EASIR, pronounced “easier”) Laboratory.
She received her Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Virginia. She subsequently completed a postdoctoral training fellowship in health psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and postdoctoral training in psychophysiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; each was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Algoe’s expertise spans emotions, relationships, and health psychology. Her basic research questions illuminate the social interactions that are at the heart of high-quality relationships. These include giving to others, expressing gratitude, and sharing laughter. She uses a range of quantitative methods to measure the behavior, psychology, and biology of each member of the relationship dyad, and uses longitudinal study designs to test hypotheses about the impact of accumulated instances of such interactions on relational and personal health. Some of Dr. Algoe’s most cited work is related to her development of the find-remind-and-bind theory of gratitude, which—at its core—posits that the emotional response of gratitude helps to solve a central problem of human survival: identifying high-quality relationship partners and keeping them interested in the relationship. More broadly, she has studied the dynamics of social interactions in the context of friendships, romantic couples, coworkers, and new acquaintances. Her work has been supported by numerous grants from federal agencies as well as private foundations, and has been featured in prominent national and international media, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, NPR, and the BBC.