Social Intimacy

The Importance of Social Intimacy: My Research Background

As a Ph.D. student of clinical psychology at the University of Waterloo, I participated in practica in clinics and hospitals. As I worked with patients, it became clear to me that people who have close, supportive relationships with others are generally healthier, both physically and emotionally and cope better with stress. I became fascinated by the interaction of psychological and physical factors in determining health and resilience to stress. I was especially interested in the role that social support and companionship play in helping people cope. Back in the late 1970’s, the idea that close relationships play a protective role in moderating the effects of stress was quite novel. Research exploring the impact emotional and social factors had on the body, including the response of the immune system, was still in its infancy.

The Development of the Miller Social Intimacy Scale

In my master’s level research I developed a psychological measure of social intimacy that could be used to quantify the degree of emotional closeness a person felt toward another person such as a family member, spouse, partner, or friend. I hypothesized that people who have relationships that are closer and more supportive can cope better with stress and are healthier. I developed and validated a measure of social intimacy, The Miller Social Intimacy Scale (MSIS).

My doctorate research employed this measure to explore the relationship between the degree of social intimacy that people experience and their adjustment to life stressors. My research showed that people who have low levels of social intimacy are prone to higher levels of emotional disturbance especially when they experience many negative life change events or few positive ones. People who have higher levels of social intimacy cope better.

In the years since its publication in 1982 many other researchers have employed the MSIS to investigate the role that social intimacy has on our emotional and physical health. The data have been consistent in pointing out the importance that close relationships have on our health and ability to cope with stress.

Helping People Improve Their Relationships

My research and the findings of other investigators in this area have had a major impact on my clinical work. No matter why people seek my assistance, I am always sensitive to relationship issues. My goal is to help people improve their relationships and to establish and maintain new ones in which they feel emotionally supported, valued, and respected.

In my practice on many occasions two people come together for a session to improve their relationship with each other. One important goal in these conjoint sessions is to help each person communicate better by expressing needs and feelings as well as by listening empathically to the other person. Most people find that listening empathically is a challenge especially when their views differ from the other person.

My research in the area of social intimacy has inspired me to learn more about the complicated mind-body connection in order to help people cope better and improve their quality of life.

Call for a free telephone consultation or to arrange an appointment.

Please feel free to use the MSIS in any research project. The article “The Assessment of Social Intimacy” which contains the MSIS can be downloaded at

19 thoughts on “Social Intimacy

  1. Dr. Rickey,
    How much does it cost your instrument?? Is a question for a college assignment. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Scarlet, There is no cost for using the MSIS. I am always gratified when researchers use this measure in their investigations, including college assignments. I would be interested in the results you obtain. Please forward me a copy.

      • Dr. Rickey,
        I am seeking your permission to use your MSIS scale in a study.

  2. Dr. Miller,
    I would also like to use your MSIS technique, as I am required to teach fellow students a class about intimacy. This is the most interesting and promising research I have found on the topic.
    Thanks Willlow Middleton

  3. Dr Miller,
    I am a researcher from Istanbul, Turkey and would like your permssion to use your intimacy scale. I also would like to ask if you have any knowledge of your scale ever been used with Turkish speaking populations I did a preliminary search and found no use but I want to also double check with you.
    Thank you.

  4. Dear Dr Miller
    I’d like a copy of your article, “The assessment of social intimacy”, 1982, Journal of Personality Assessment, vol. 46, issue 5. My university subscribes to this journal but not until the 90s so I cannot read your article. Could you send me a PDF of it? Many thanks! Jonny

  5. Hello, Dr Miller.
    I would also like permission to use your intimacy scale for a research project. I am currently completing my degree in art therapy. I am happy to forward you my results at the conclusion of the project.
    Thank you very much!
    Susan V. Bertram

  6. Dear Dr. Miller,
    I found your MSIS very interesting. And I am writing an article on it’s adaptation. For this purpose I need a copy of your scale. Would you please send me a PDF copy of your article- “Miller, R.S., Lefcourt, H.M., 1982. The assessment of social intimacy. Journal of
    Personality Assessment 46 (5) 514–518.” It would be very kind of you. And I am assuring you, I will send you a copy of my research.

  7. Dr Miller,
    I am a college student from Indonesia. I’d like to use your instrument for my thesis but I need your basic theory from your instrument first. May I know the theory of your social intimacy? Would you send to my email please?
    Thank you.

  8. Dr. Miller,
    My name’s Irene, I am a college student from Indonesia. I’d like to use your instrument, but I need to know your basic theory first. May I get your theory of social intimacy? Would you send to my email, please?
    Thank you.

  9. Dr.Miller,
    I urgently need your permission to use the intimacy scale for my undergraduate project work..
    thank you sir

  10. Good day! I am very interested on getting a copy of MSIS. I wil be using the instrument for your thesis. Can I have a copy? Thank you

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