Considerable past work has examined both initial romantic attraction and established romantic connection. However, the crucial fledgling relationship stage that bridges them is not well-understood. One of the major projects being conducted in the lab right now is the Utah Pair Project, which involves recruiting people who have started dating someone new within the past month and studying them over a two-year period. This study will advance our basic understanding of how initial romantic attraction progresses (or does not progress) into a long-term partnership.This work is currently being funded by a Seed Grant from the University of Utah.
The other projects in the lab center around how people in long-term relationships navigate major relationship transitions, such as moving in together, getting married, merging finances, and breaking up. How do people make these decisions, and which decision strategies ultimately predict better well-being and health outcomes? We have found that people tend to take their partner’s feelings and perspectives into consideration when making relationship decisions, sometimes even to their own detriment. We are also analyzing data exploring the consequences of experiencing ambivalence over relationship decisions.