Dr. Shebib's research interests are embedded in interpersonal/family relationships during conflict and support. Her master's thesis won two awards: Outstanding Master's Thesis at the National Communication Association's conference and Outstanding Master's Thesis from the School of Communication at Illinois State University. Her thesis details the various communication patterns marital partners engage in when discussing financial issues and how these communicative patterns are related to their marital satisfaction. Her study found that if a spouse believes they have different beliefs from their marital partner on how financial obligations should be managed, they are more likely to communicate in ways that are dysfunctional. Conversely, if a spouse feels they have similar financial beliefs to their partner, they are more likely to communicate constructively by being cooperative, supportive and compromising.
Dr. Shebib's dissertation involved emerging adult children's financial conflict with parents. It weaves together family communication patterns (FCP) theory and expectancy violations theory (EVT) to predict how FCP influence expected conflict behaviors and what happens when those expectations are violated. One of the more interesting findings is that though FCP predict children’s initial conflict orientations, a parent’s violations of those expectations can quickly change the child’s course. Currently, Dr. Shebib is interested in examining how physiological responses (i.e., cortisol and testosterone) affect how one communicates when conflict transpires. Similarly, she intends to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see how conflict messages affect the brain, which is the biological organ of communication, in both children and parents during marital/relational conflict. Her research is also interested in how conflict behaviors are transmitted across generations as children learn these behaviors as ways to manage and handle conflict.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Dr. Shebib's researches supportive communication, specifically esteem support, which is a unique form of emotional support that is intended to boost one’s self-esteem when experiencing an esteem-threatening situation. Her line of esteem support research has contributed to finding messages that are most supportive to recipients when experiencing esteem threats. She's identified: (a) sex of provider and recipient, (b) experiencing shame and guilt, (c) mixed message content, (d) the use of nonverbal behaviors, (e) and recipient's effort can enhance or hinder the effectiveness of esteem support messages. Additionally, Dr. Shebib has research on perceptions of sibling support differ for closest and least close sibling relationships, and how support in one sibling relationship can be associated with satisfaction in the other. Her future work in this area will involve family support when a family member is substance dependent addressing how to support without enabling.
Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Shebib's expertise lies in methodological designs. The choice of method that we use has to line up with the kind of claims the theory makes. There needs to be a theoretical story because that's where the contribution is in social science. I think that we can’t talk about method until we are on the same page theoretically. A good method can’t be divorced from a strong theoretical argument and from a generation of hypotheses that are rooted in an idea. It is essential to ensure that hypotheses are faithfully tested by the method in which one utilizes to test the claims they have made. That is, what you’re writing theoretically and what you’re hypothesizing derived from that theory needs to be faithfully tested by your method.