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Our research on close relationships is guided by three theoretical perspectives:

Implicit theories of relationships are specific beliefs that people bring with them into their relationships. Destiny belief concerns the stability of one’s impressions about relationships. Growth belief concerns the stability of problems in relationships. These beliefs help guide how people perceive, initiate, and maintain romantic relationships.

Self-determination, or autonomy, in romantic relationships refers to fully endorsing one’s own involvement rather than feeling coerced, guilty, or not knowing why one is in the relationship. One’s degree of self-determination and autonomous investment has a great deal to do with how people approach and manage conflict in romantic relationships.

Relationship-contingent self-esteem is self-esteem that depends on one’s relationship, and reflects a particular kind of unhealthy relationship investment. When one’s self-regard is hooked on one’s relationship, one is strongly influenced by relationship events and outcomes because of the implications those events have for the self.

Sample Current Projects:

  • The integrating self and interpersonal defensiveness and conflict management
  • Implicit theories of relationships and rapport
  • Perceptions of self-determination in the initiation of romantic relationships
  • Everyday social interactions and authenticity of self
  • Interpersonal processes that promote optimal relationship development