We are pleased to announce Rhonda Balzarini, PhD as the recipient of the 2023 Kenneth R. Haslam, MD Relationship Diversity Research Award, which supports the work of Kinsey Institute and affiliated researchers conducting research on non-monogamy, alternative sexualities, and intersections of diverse relationships and sexuality.
Dr. Balzarini is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Texas State University and an affiliate researcher at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. She is a social psychologist studying the interpersonal processes that enhance and detract from the quality of romantic and sexual relationships.
Dr. Justin Garcia, Executive Director of the Kinsey Institute, said “Dr. Rhonda Balzarini is a creative scientist and thoughtful collaborator, whose research on relationship diversity including consensual non-monogamy advances our understanding of complex interpersonal dynamics in people’s romantic and sexual lives. I am delighted that she was chosen by her peers as the Kinsey Institute’s 2023 awardee.”
Dr. Balzarini’s research focuses on how diverse couples can have satisfying and passionate relationships and successfully navigate challenges and distressing situations. Her investigations of the dynamics of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) include some of the first studies to compare the demographic characteristics of people in polyamorous relationship with those in monogamous relationships and to compare how relationship quality differed among polyamorous people’s reports of primary and secondary relationships versus monogamous relationships. She has also worked with Kinsey Institute researchers to investigate the effects of COVID-19 on the quality of people’s sexual lives. Her current projects include examining how virtual reality could help couples introduce novel experiences into their relationship or help them maintain relationship quality when far apart and analyzing data on relationship processes in CNM relationships from a new longitudinal study of 700 polyamorous participants and their partners.
She has a strong track record of publications and grant funding for research applying social psychological theories and using diverse methods including longitudinal, dyadic, experience sampling, and experiments and advanced statistical techniques like multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, and response surface analyses to understand how couples from diverse relationship orientations can maintain desire and satisfaction over time.
Her research has been featured in Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, BBC, Psychology Today, VICE, and PsychCentral. Dr. Balzarini recently appeared on the Big Sex Talk, a CBC docuseries that challenges people’s ideas about gender and sexuality, and she appears regularly on podcasts and radio shows.
The Kinsey Institute wishes to thank Dr. Kenneth Haslam, an academic anesthesiologist and long-time friend and supporter of the Kinsey Institute, whose generosity makes this award possible. Dr. Haslam also continues to work with Liana Zhou, Director of the Kinsey Institute Library and Special Collections, to develop the Kenneth R. Haslam, MD Polyamory Collection, an important polyamory collection and archive at the Kinsey Institute which includes the work of Dr. Haslam and many other poly-activists, with materials dating back to the 1970s.