The evolved psychological mechanisms underlying relationship maintenance are ancient, but people navigate their relationships in a modern world.
My research utilizes longitudinal, dyadic, and experimental methods to examine how fundamental relationship motives and their underlying individual differences function in modern society. Additionally, I examine specific sources of evolutionary mismatch (e.g., hormonal contraceptives) and their consequences for long-term relationships.
Fundamental Relationship Motives & their Implications for Relationships
One core pillar of my research examines how relationship outcomes--like satisfaction and divorce--are associated with individual differences in fundamental relationship motives. For example, I have found that people's motivations to pursue casual sex (i.e., their sociosexuality) predicts long-term marital satisfaction and dissolution. Additionally, I have shown that how people make difficult decisions between choice alternatives (i.e., their tendencies to maximize vs. satisfice) play a role in how much their partners' traits (e.g., physical attractiveness) are associated with their relationship satisfaction.
Specific Sources of Evolutionary Mismatch
Some novel features of the modern environment are mismatched to, and thus may interfere with, evolved psychological processes that promote relationship maintenance. For example, I have shown that longitudinal changes in hormonal contraceptives may interfere with sexual satisfaction, which promotes pair-bond maintenance. Additionally, I have found that men whose partners use hormonal contraceptives are less likely to respond to perceived relationship threats (e.g., low partner commitment) with functional mate-guarding behaviors. I am also interested in how people manage the threat of the increased availability of alternative partners (and, relatedly, increased threat of romantic rivals) that is characteristic of today's interconnected and population-dense society.