Publications

Full text PDFs of these publications are available. I am also happy to provide the study materials used, datasets, and analysis code for papers in which I am the first author, or the first author has given me permission to do so. Please contact me [lvanderd@syr.edu] with requests.

VanderDrift, L. E., Ioerger, M., Mitzel, L. D., & Vanable, P. A.  (in press)  Partner support, willingness to sacrifice, and HIV medication self-efficacy.  AIDS and Behavior.  [pdf]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: When taken as prescribed, highly active anti-retroviral (HAART) medications allow individuals with HIV to live long, healthy lives. Nevertheless, poor adherence is common. In the current study, we examined why some people fail to feel efficacious to adhere, focusing on their interpersonal relationships. Given past findings that some individuals with primary partners adhere better than those without, whereas others adhere worse, we examined whether relationship dynamics influence the association between support from a primary partner and adherence self-efficacy. Specifically, we hypothesized and found that relationship partners’ support regarding medication adherence undermines self-efficacy when the partner is perceived as unwilling to sacrifice for the relationship. We discuss the implications of these results for intervention construction and for understanding the power of the relationship context on HIV medication adherence.

VanderDrift, L. E., Agnew, C. R., & Besikci, E.  (2016)  Friendship and Romance. In M. Hojjat & A. Moyer (Eds.).  The Psychology of Friendship.  Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: In this chapter, we review the role of friendships in romantic relationships. Taking an interdependence theory perspective, we argue that the subjective experience of a relationship reflects how well the involved partners fulfill each others’ needs, including companionate needs, sexual needs, needs for security and care-giving, and self-focused needs such as self-improvement and self-expansion (Rusbult & Van Lange, 2003; VanderDrift & Agnew, 2012). Which needs an individual chooses to fulfill via their romantic relationship, coupled with their romantic partner’s ability and willingness to meet those needs, have considerable implications for relationship outcomes (Drigotas & Rusbult, 1992; Le & Agnew, 2001). Research suggests that there are strong positive outcomes uniquely associated with romantic partners meeting friendship needs (VanderDrift, Wilson, & Agnew, 2013). We further suggest that this association is enhanced by the current social context in Western cultures in which individuals’ social networks have narrowed and self-achievement goals are prominent. This context promotes individuals tasking their romances with the full corpus of need fulfillment, including vitally important friendship needs (Finkel, Hui, Carswell, & Larson, in press). We discuss the beneficial outcomes for both the individual and the relationship when partners meet each others’ friendship needs, as well the deleterious consequences of lacking friendship in romance. We also consider individual, situational, and cultural differences that may lead individuals to differentially value and benefit from friendship in romance (e.g., attachment styles, patterns of interdependence, cultural worldviews). We close by offering future directions for research and suggest adaptations people may wish to make to ensure their romances remain satisfying over time.

Wesselmann, E. D., VanderDrift, L. E., & Agnew, C. R.  (2016)  Religious commitment: An interdependence approach.  Psychology of Religion and Spirituality,  8, 35-45.  doi: 10.1037/rel0000024.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: In 4 studies using cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental methods, we applied interdependence theory-based concepts to understand individuals' religious commitment, focusing on 4 distinct targets of commitment: God, denomination, community, and spiritual leader. We specifically examined which individuals were likely to persist in their religious organization membership and belief system, and which individuals were likely to convert. Results suggest our interdependence-based measures demonstrated both good reliability and predictive validity (Study 1). Religious commitment can be manipulated temporarily (Study 2) and also fluctuates over time naturally (Studies 3 and 4). Study 4 also found that our interdependence-based measures were better at predicting persistence and conversion than were other established measures of religious commitment. We close by suggesting how future research on religious commitment can be informed by the interdependence literature.

Hoffman, A. M., Agnew, C. R., VanderDrift, L. E.  (2015)  Norms, diplomatic alternatives and the social psychology of war support.  Journal of Conflict Resolution,  59, 3-28.  doi: 10.1177/0022002713498706.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Using experiments, we show that subjects who are asked about their support for war without being told about diplomatic strategies to deal with crises back military operations at levels consistent with people who are told that the alternatives to war are of low quality. In contrast, subjects who are told that diplomacy could work to resolve conflicts express less support for military operations. These results suggest that, in the absence of conflicting evidence, people premise their support for war on the assumption that leaders use force as a last resort. Implications for the study of success as an influence on public attitudes about US military operations are considered.

Tan, K., Agnew, C. R., & VanderDrift, L. E.  (2015)  Committed to us: Predicting relationship closeness following non-marital romantic relationship breakup.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,  32, 456-471.  doi: 10.1177/0265407514536293.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: There is little research on the nature of relationships between individuals following the termination of a nonmarital romantic relationship. It is largely unknown to what extent former romantic partners remain close following breakup. The present research used the Investment Model of Commitment Processes, assessed prior to romantic breakup, to examine the closeness of post-breakup relationships. Results obtained from two waves of data collected from 143 young adults involved in romantic relationships at Time 1 and experiencing a romantic breakup by Time 2 indicated that pre-breakup romantic commitment mediated the effects of pre-breakup romantic satisfaction, investments, and alternatives on post-breakup closeness, with higher pre-breakup commitment predicting greater post-breakup closeness. Implications of these findings for understanding the underlying dynamics of ongoing interpersonal relationships and directions for future research are discussed.

VanderDrift, L. E., Tyler, J. M., & Ma, L.  (2015)  Self-presentation of romantic relationships: Audience, attachment, and the self-presentation of relationship intimacy.  Self and Identity,  14, 453-463.  doi: 10.1080/15298868.2015.1009939.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Individuals' self-concepts are inextricably entwined with their relationships [Reis, H. T., Collins, W. A., & Berscheid, E. (2000). Psychological Bulletin, 126, 844–872], and thus it stands to reason that information about close relationships will figure prominently in individuals' self-presentational efforts. Yet, little is known about how individuals present their relationship. We examined whether individuals present information about their relationship differently as a function of both the target audience and the individuals' attachment style. Findings revealed that when individuals expected to interact with a romantic couple (vs. two control conditions) those high in attachment anxiety engaged in greater self-presentational efforts. Implications for understanding how relationship information is self-presented, as well as the goals of individuals with different attachment styles are discussed.

White, C. N., VanderDrift, L. E., Heffernan, K. S.  (2015)  Social isolation, cognitive decline, and cardiovascular disease risk.  Current Opinions in Psychology,  5, 18-23.  doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.005.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Some of the first observations in early psychology regarding human nature involved the importance of social connections to mental health. Humans are hypothesized to have a fundamental need to belong, which includes having meaningful, affectionate bonds from close relationships. Without such bonds humans are susceptible to psychological consequences, including negative affect and stress. Recently, research has begun to consider additional consequences of an unmet need to belong, including those impacting physiology, neurology, and physical health. Research employing animal models and human participants has provided converging evidence that social isolation is robustly and negatively associated with cognitive and cardiovascular function. In this review, we examine that evidence, review the possible mechanisms by which those associations form, and close by proposing avenues for future research to help elucidate these associations.

Agnew, C. R., & VanderDrift, L. E.  (2014)  Relationship maintenance and dissolution. In J. A. Simpson & J. F. Dovidio (Eds.).  The handbook of personality and social psychology: Interpersonal relations and group processes (p. 581-604).  Washington, DC: APA Press.  [link]

Abstract: This chapter reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on the maintenance and dissolution of close interpersonal relationships. Concepts from evolution, attachment, and interdependence theories...
Abstract: This chapter reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on the maintenance and dissolution of close interpersonal relationships. Concepts from evolution, attachment, and interdependence theories will be used to organize the extant empirical findings. From an evolutionary perspective, work on mate retention strategies and on the role of fertility cues in influencing efforts to maintain a given partner will be reviewed. Research from an attachment perspective on the subjective appraisal of threats and the consequences of the activation of the attachment system on relationship maintenance will also be examined. From interdependence theory, concepts such as transformation of motivation, mutual cyclical growth, and risk regulation will provide a foundation for understanding various effects reported in the literature with relevance to maintenance. Specific cognitive, affective, motivational, and behavioral maintenance mechanisms will be reviewed, including findings with respect to consequences of relationship commitment that serve to maintain and/or strengthen a relationship: derogation of alternatives, accommodation, willingness to sacrifice, positive illusions, trust, cognitive interdependence, forgiveness, conflict management, and perceived partner responsiveness. Finally, research findings on what occurs when relationships fail to be maintained - dissolution processes - will be reviewed. Stage models of dissolution, work on dissolution consideration, emotional and physiological reactions surrounding dissolution, and the impact of dissolution on the self, as well as findings regarding post-relationship resilience, will be examined.

Arriaga, X. B., Kumashiro, M., Finkel, E. J., VanderDrift, L. E., & Luchies, L. B.  (2014)  The Filling-the-Void Model of bolstering attachment security over time.  Social Psychology and Personality Science,  5, 398-405.  doi: 10.1177/1948550613509287.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Attachment security has many salutary effects in adulthood, yet little is known about the specific interpersonal processes that increase attachment security over time. Using data from 134 romantically committed couples in a longitudinal study, we examined trust (whether a partner is perceived as available and dependable) and perceived goal validation (whether a partner is perceived as encouraging one’s personal goal pursuits). In concurrent analyses, trust toward a partner was uniquely associated with lower attachment anxiety, whereas perceiving one’s goal pursuits validated by a partner was uniquely associated with lower attachment avoidance. In longitudinal analyses, however, the inverse occurred: Trust toward a partner uniquely predicting reduced attachment avoidance over time and perceived goal validation uniquely predicting reduced attachment anxiety over time. These findings highlight distinct temporal paths for bolstering the security of attachment anxious versus attachment avoidant individuals.

VanderDrift, L. E. & Agnew, C. R.  (2014)  Relational consequences of personal goal pursuits.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,  106, 927-940.  doi: 10.1037/a0036180.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Individuals balance tasks necessary to fulfill personal goals and to maintain their interpersonal relationships. In the current studies, we examined the impact of personal goal pursuits on how individuals process and respond to events in their romantic relationships. In 5 experiments, we examined consequences of motivationally active personal goals for relationships. Results indicated that when individuals focused on pursuing a personal goal, they processed relationship information in an evaluatively polarized (Study 1), one-sided (Study 2) fashion. Relative to those deliberating about a personal goal, those focused on a personal goal reported less willingness to engage in some kinds of pro-relationship behaviors (Study 3) and were more likely to forego an opportunity to improve their relationship (Study 4). We attribute this pattern of findings to processing that shielded the personal goal from goal-irrelevant influence (Study 5). These findings provide a greater understanding of how pursuing a personal goal can undermine relationships.

VanderDrift, L. E., Agnew, C. R., & Wilson, J. E.  (2014)  Spanish version of the Investment Model Scale.  Personal Relationships,  21, 110-124.  doi: 10.1111/pere.12016.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Voluminous work has catalogued the utility of Rusbult's (1980) investment model of commitment processes in understanding why some relationships persist whereas others fail. To date this work has been conducted almost exclusively with samples of English-speaking individuals. To facilitate testing novel hypotheses among Spanish-speaking populations as well examining various cross-cultural questions, we present a Spanish version of the Investment Model Scale (Rusbult, Martz, & Agnew, 1998). With a sample of Spanish-speaking individuals from Chile, we demonstrate that our translation has the same structural properties as the English version (Study 1) and has good predictive validity (Study 2). The Spanish version of the Investment Model Scale will enable researchers to sample a larger subset of the population and allow for the examination of cultural influences on relationship processes.

Lehmiller, J. J., Graziano, W. G., & VanderDrift, L. E.  (2014)  Peer influence and attraction to interracial romantic relationships.  Social Sciences,  3, 115-127.  doi:10.3390/socsci3010115.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: The present research examined the effect of social influence on White, heterosexual individuals’ attraction to targets of varying races (White vs. Black) in two  college student samples from the United States (one that leaned politically liberal and one that leaned politically conservative). Using a within-subjects experimental design, participants were given artificial peer evaluation data (positive, negative, or none) before providing ratings of attractiveness and dating interest for a series of targets. In both samples, positive information was associated with greater levels of attraction and dating interest than negative information, regardless of target race. Within the conservative sample, participants reported greater attraction toward and more dating interest in White targets relative to Black targets, while in the liberal sample, participants’ ratings of targets did not significantly differ from one another. These findings suggest that social influence can affect perceptions of attractiveness even in very different political climates.

Lehmiller, J. J., VanderDrift, L. E., & Kelly, J. R.  (2014)  Sexual communication, satisfaction, and condom use behavior: A comparison of friends with benefits and romantic partners.  Journal of Sex Research,  51, 74-85.  doi: 10.1080/00224499.2012.719167.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Although "friends with benefits" relationships (FWBRs) are common and have been the subject of significant media and research attention, relatively little is known about them, especially in terms of how they differ from other types of relationships. The present research sought to compare the sexual outcomes of FWBRs to those of traditional romantic relationships via an online survey. Results revealed that FWBR partners were less likely to be sexually exclusive, had a lower frequency of sexual interaction, were less sexually satisfied, and generally communicated less about sex than romantic partners did. However, compared to romantic partners, FWBR partners devoted relatively more of the time spent together to sexual activity, practiced safe sex more frequently, communicated more often about extradyadic sexual experiences, and reported a greater number of lifetime casual sex partners. These findings indicate that the sexual outcomes of FWBRs and romantic relationships are quite distinct and provide evidence of the potential public health implications associated with both casual and committed sexual relationships.

VanderDrift, L. E., Agnew, C. R., Harvey, S. M., & Warren, J.  (2013)  Whose intentions predict? Power over condom use in heterosexual dyads.  Health Psychology,  32, 1038-1046.  doi: 10.1037/a0030021.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: According to major theories of behavioral prediction, the most proximal psychological predictor of an individual's behavior is that individual's intention. With respect to interdependent behaviors such as condom use, however, relationship dynamics influence individuals' power to make decisions and to act. OBJECTIVE: The current study examines how relationship dynamics impact 3 condom use relevant outcomes: (a) the individual forming his or her own intention to use condoms, (b) the couple forming their joint intention to use condoms, and (c) actual condom use behavior. METHOD: We conducted a 2-wave longitudinal study of young heterosexual adult couples at high risk for HIV infection involving the collection of both individual- and couple-derived data. RESULTS: Results demonstrate the importance of both person (e.g., biological sex and dispositional dominance) and relational (e.g., relational power and amount of interest in the relationship, operationalized as commitment and perceived alternatives to the relationship) factors in predicting condom use intentions and behavior. Individuals who are lower in dispositional dominance are likely to incorporate their partner's intentions into their own individual intentions; the intentions of individuals who have less interest in the relationship are more highly predictive of the couple's joint intention; and the intentions of men and individuals higher in relationship power are more likely to exert a direct influence on condom use. CONCLUSIONS: These findings have implications for improving the health of high-risk individuals, including suggesting situations in which individuals are highly influenced by their partners' intentions.

VanderDrift, L. E., Wilson, J. E., & Agnew, C. R.  (2013)  On the benefits of valuing being friends for non-marital romantic partners.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,  30, 115-131.  doi: 10.1177/0265407512453009.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Romantic relationships are, at their core, friendships. As such, it may be the case that valuing that aspect of the relationship fortifies the romantic relationship against negative outcomes and serves as a buffer against dissolution. We explored the role of valuing friendship within romantic relationships in two two-wave studies examining whether investing in the friendship aspect of the relationship (Study 1; N = 190) and placing importance on affiliative need fulfillment (Study 2; N = 184) were associated with positive concurrent outcomes and positive outcomes over time. Results revealed that valuing the friendship aspect of a romance is a strong positive predictor of concurrent romantic relationship qualities (i.e., love, sexual gratification, and romantic commitment), is associated with increases in these qualities over time and is negatively associated with romantic dissolution. Furthermore, evidence suggests that these benefits come from valuing friendship specifically, rather than any other aspect of the relationship (e.g., the sexual aspect).

Fingerman, K. L., Gilligan, M., VanderDrift, L. E., & Pitzer, L.  (2012)  In-law relationships before and after the wedding: Husbands, wives, and their mothers-in-law.  Research on Human Development,  9, 106-125.  doi: 10.1080/15427609.2012.680843.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Relationships with in-laws play an important role in individuals’ lives, but we do not know how these ties are formed. We considered two pathways through which early relationships with mothers-in-laws may affect subsequent in-law relationship qualities: a) dimensions of the early relationship and, b) beliefs and expectations of the future relationship. Sixty men and women engaged to be married and their mothers (N= 240) completed interviews prior to, and 6 to 8 months following the wedding. Measures at Time 1 assessed three dimensions of the in-law relationship: a) behavioral (contact by phone, in person), b) emotional (positive and negative relationship qualities), and c) cognitive (knowledge about the other person). Participants also described positive and negative expectations of their future tie. Multilevel models revealed that dimensions of the tie prior to the marriage were associated with post-wedding in-law relationship qualities. When the parties had individual contact with one another and positive feelings before the wedding, ties were stronger following the wedding. Data from open-ended descriptions of negative expectations obtained before the wedding predicted negative relationship qualities after the wedding. Husbands, wives, and mothers-in-law showed similar patterns with regard to relationship qualities. Discussion focuses on the role of early emotional qualities of the in-law tie for subsequent in-law relationships.

VanderDrift, L. E. & Agnew, C. R.  (2012)  Need fulfillment and stay-leave behavior: On the diagnosticity of personal and relational needs.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,  29, 228-245.  doi: 10.1177/0265407511431057.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Need fulfillment has been found to be associated with numerous positive relationship outcomes, but its impact on stay–leave behavior is less clear. In the current study, we considered whether the fulfillment of different needs might differentially affect stay–leave behavior. We distinguished between needs that are personal in nature and those that are relational in nature. Central to our theoretical analysis is the interdependence-based contention that the fulfillment of different kinds of needs provides diagnostic information regarding a partner’s motives and intentions regarding a relationship. Using two-wave longitudinal data obtained from romantically involved participants, we tested the relative fit of two alternative models that specified the associations between the fulfillment of different kinds of needs, commitment, and stay–leave behavior. Consistent with an interdependence approach, we found that the influence of the fulfillment of personal needs on stay–leave behavior was mediated by commitment, whereas the fulfillment of relational needs directly influenced stay–leave behavior. Implications for relationship functioning are considered.

Fingerman, K. L., VanderDrift, L. E., Dotterer, A., Birditt, K. S., & Zarit, S.  (2011)  Support to grown children and aging parents in Black and White families.  The Gerontologist,  54, 441-452.  doi: 10.1093/geront/gnq114.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Purpose: Black and White middle-aged adults typically are in a pivot position of providing support to generations above and below. Racial differences in support to each generation in the family remain unclear, however. Different factors may account for racial differences in support of grown children versus aging parents. Design and Methods: Middle-aged adults (aged 40–60 years; 35%, n = 216 Black and 65%, n= 397 White) rated social support they provided each aging parent and grown child. Participants reported background characteristics representing their resources and measures of needs for each family member. Interviews also assessed beliefs about obligation to support parents and grown children and rewards from helping. Results: Multilevel models revealed White middle-aged adults provided more support to grown children than Black middle-aged adults. Demands from offspring, beliefs about support, and rewards from helping explained these racial differences. Black middle-aged adults provided more support to parents than White middle-aged adults. Beliefs about support and feelings of personal reward from providing support explained this difference but resources and demands did not. Implications: Racial differences varied by generation (parent or offspring). The prolonged transitions common for White young adults explained racial differences in support of offspring. Middle-aged adults may treat support of parents as more discretionary, with cultural ideas about obligation and personal rewards guiding behaviors.

Lehmiller, J. J., VanderDrift, L. E., & Kelly, J. R.  (2011)  Sex differences in approaching friends with benefits relationships.  Journal of Sex Research,  48, 275-284.  doi: 10.1080/00224491003721694.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: This research explored differences in how men and women approach "friends with benefits" (FWB) relationships. Specifically, this study examined sex differences in reasons for beginning such involvements, commitment to the friendship versus sexual aspects of the relationship, and partners'; anticipated hopes for the future. To do so, an Internet sample of individuals currently involved in FWB relationships was recruited. Results indicated many overall similarities in terms of how the sexes approach FWB relationships, but several important differences emerged. For example, sex was a more common motivation for men to begin such relationships, whereas emotional connection was a more common motivation for women. In addition, men were more likely to hope that the relationship stays the same over time, whereas women expressed more desire for change into either a full-fledged romance or a basic friendship. Unexpectedly, both men and women were more committed to the friendship than to the sexual aspect of the relationship. Although some additional similarities appeared, the findings were largely consistent with the notion that traditional gender role expectations and the sexual double standard may influence how men and women approach FWB relationships.

VanderDrift, L. E., Lewandowski, G. W., & Agnew, C. R.  (2011)  Reduced self-expansion in current romance and interest in relationship alternatives.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,  28, 356-373.  doi: 10.1177/0265407510382321.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Two studies examined the process by which romantic relationship partners who report lower self-expansion in their relationship come to show greater interest in their alternatives. We tested predictions based on the alternatives literature in which lacking relationship-derived self-expansion would lead to failures of motivational bias (i.e., devaluing attractive alternatives) and perceptual bias (i.e., failing to notice attractive alternatives) to influence perceptions of alternatives. We conducted two cross-sectional studies, one designed to test failure of the motivational bias and one the perceptual bias. Results supported the predictions, indicating that both biases fail to operate in individuals whose current romantic relationship provides insufficient self-expansion. We discuss implications for relationship outcomes, as well as for the theoretical understanding of alternatives.

Agnew, C. R. & VanderDrift, L. E.  (2009)  Survey methods in relationship research. In H. T. Reis & S. Sprecher (Eds.).  Encyclopedia of Human Relationships  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Survey methods are among the most popular approaches used by researchers to study human relationships.  In general, survey methods refer to a type of research in which data are collected from a sample drawn from a population through the use of a questionnaire. Surveys entail asking questions of respondents directly, either orally or in writing.  Surveys may be conducted in person, via postal mail, over the telephone, or on the Internet. Beginning with a set of objectives, researchers using survey methods make decisions regarding the study design, the sample, and the questions to be asked to maximize their ability to answer research questions and minimize the cost of the study. In this entry, decisions regarding the survey study design, the survey sample, and the survey questions will be detailed, and examples will be given to show how relationship researchers use survey methods effectively to address important relationship topics.

VanderDrift, L. E., Agnew, C. R., & Wilson, J. E.  (2009)  Romantic relationship commitment and stay/leave behavior: The mediating role of dissolution consideration.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,  35, 1220-1232.  doi: 10.1177/0146167209337543.  [link]

Abstract: ...
Abstract: Two studies investigated the process by which individuals in nonmarital romantic relationships characterized by low commitment move toward enacting leave behaviors. Predictions based on the behavioral, goal, and implementation intention literatures were tested using a measure of dissolution consideration developed for this research. Dissolution consideration assesses how salient relationship termination is for an individual while one's relationship is intact. Study 1 developed and validated a measure of dissolution consideration and Study 2 was a longitudinal test of the utility of dissolution consideration in predicting the enactment of leave behaviors. Results indicated that dissolution consideration mediates the association between commitment and enacting leave behaviors, is associated with taking more immediate action, and provides unique explanatory power in leave behavior beyond the effect of commitment alone. Collectively, the findings suggest that dissolution consideration is an intermediate step between commitment and stay/leave behavior in close relationships.