Margaret J. Pitts

Associate Professor & Associate Dean of the Graduate College
Margaret Pitts

Office: Communication 222
Office Hours: Fall 2023 I Mon/Wed 10:30am-11:30am & by appt


Maggie Pitts (PhD, Penn State, 2005) is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Associate Dean at the Graduate College at the University of Arizona. She is also Immediate Past President of the International Association of Language and Social Psychology (2018-2022).  Her program of research centers on the types of everyday talk people use to manage transitions across the life course (such as health decision-making, end-of-life and later life conversations, retirement, international sojourning, etc.). Transitions offer a rich context for the study of interpersonal communication, as it is during these times that people often become acutely aware of the importance of “talk” and a shifting sense of self. Maggie specializes in qualitative research methods including observation, interviewing, and focus groups. Her research is published in Communication Monographs, Journal of Social Issues, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Language and Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Health Communication, Communication and Medicine, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Qualitative Health Research, The Qualitative Report, and Qualitative Research.

Maggie takes a “bright side” approach to the study of human communication -- asking questions like, "what is going right" and "how can we make good things even better?" Toward this end, she has co-edited two volumes on positive communication - the first of their kind to harness and provide focus for a movement in Positive Communication - The Positive Side of Interpersonal Communication (Socha & Pitts, Eds., 2012) and Positive Communication in Health and Wellness (Pitts & Socha, Eds., 2013). With her graduate students, she is actively pursuing a line of research examining Communication Savoring as a positive communication construct and is developing the Grounded Model of Communication Savoring. 

She teaches undergraduate courses in communication theory, interpersonal communication, and intercultural communication at the University of Arizona. She gives graduate seminars in qualitative research methods, interpersonal communication theory, theories of intercultural communication, and health communication.

Areas of Study

Positive Communication

Aging and Communication

Interpersonal Communication

Intercultural Communication

Health Communication

Language and Social Psychology


Currently I am exploring SAVORING as a communication concept.

My Graduate Research Team and I are currently investigating:

(1) Communication Savoring in Cross-Cultural Contexts and Interpersonal Relationships 

(2) Communicaiton Savoring and Relational Enhancement in Military Couples during Deployment

(3) International Sojourner Transitions

Communication Savoring Research:

Jiao, J., Kim, S., & Pitts, M. J. (2021). Promoting subjective well-being through communication savoring. Communication Quarterly, 69 (2), 152-171.

Pitts, M. J., Kim, S., Meyerhoffer, H., & Jiao, J. (2019). Savoring as positive communication (Chapter 11). In J. A. M. Velázquez & C. Pulido (Eds.), TheRoutledge handbook of positive communication: Contributions of an emerging community of research on communication for happiness and social change (pp. 98-107). New York, NY: Routledge.

Pitts, M. J. (2019). The language and social psychology of savoring: Advancing the communication savoring model. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 38, 237-259. DOI: 10.1177/0261927X18821404

Want to learn more? Check out this instructional guide on savoring practice:

Listen to Maggie's podcast interview on Constant Wonder:

Check out these media references:

Selected Publications

A Selection of Recent Peer Reviewed Articles 

Cooper, R. A., Pitts, M. J., & Harwood, J. (online first, 2021). “That’s when the relationship shifted”: Relational and communicative turning points in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Personal Relationships. DOI: 10.1111/pere.12412

Cooper, R. A., & Pitts, M. J. (online first, 2021). Caregiving spouses’ experiences of relational uncertainty and partner influence in the prolonged relational transition of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. DOI: 10.1177/02654075211058084

Jiao, J., Kim, S., & Pitts, M. J. (2021). Promoting subjective well-being through communication savoring. Communication Quarterly, 69 (2), 152-171.

Aubrey, J. S., Pitts, M. J., Lutovsky, B., Jiao, J., Yan, K., & Stanley, S. J. (2020). Investigating disparities by sex and LGBTQ identity: A content analysis of sexual health information on college student health center websites. Journal of Health Communication, 25, 584-593. DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2020.1825567

Stanley, S., & Pitts, M. J. (2019). ‘I’m scared of the disappointment’: Young adult smokers’ relational identity gaps and management strategies as sites of communication intervention. Health Communication34, 904-911. DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2018.1440507

Stanley, S. J., Yan, K., Jiao, J., Lutovsky, B. R., Aubrey, J. S., & Pitts, M. J. (2019). Communicating about sex when it matters: A content analytic investigation of sexual health information on college student health center websites. Journal of Applied Communication, 47, 591-610. DOI: 10.1080/00909882.2019.1675895