Research on Difficult Conversations

Talking to strangers can be difficult, especially when they’re different than us, but sometimes talking to people we know can be difficult too (e.g., talking about death and dying, talking about physical or mental illness). I’m just starting my research in this area…Some of the questions I’ll be examining:

  • What fears do people have about talking to others? Is it really possible to say “the wrong things”? If so, what are they?
  • How do fears vary across people (e.g., due to individual differences) and across types of conversations
  • How do fears affect the success of a social interaction?
  • Can interventions target fears to improve the success of social interactions?

Click to access each publication and each media article. If you would like to read a paper, but can’t access it, please email me and I’d be happy to send a copy for your personal use. Click here for more resources.


Moreton, J., Kelly, C.S., & Sandstrom G.M. (2023). Social support from weak ties: Insight from the literature on minimal social interactions. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, e12729.

Selected Media Coverage

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