Dr. Baker is welcoming graduate student applications for Fall 2024 admission
Our lab investigates how people can resolve problems in their close relationships.
People work harder to resolve their problems when they are motivated to do so. Thus, my research identifies determinants of intimates’ problem-solving motivation. For example, intimates tend to be more motivated to solve their problems when they are committed to their relationships, and I have shown that gratitude, positive expectations, and positive self-beliefs all shape intimates’ commitment and thus problem-solving motivation.
Resolving relationship problems requires not only the motivation, but also the ability, to do so. Thus, my recent research examines the implications of basic cognitive abilities for relationship problem solving. For example, I’ve shown that intimates with strong working memory capacity tend to remember more from problem-solving discussions and thus are more successful at resolving their problems. Similarly, I’ve shown that inhibitory control helps intimates avoid the temptation of infidelity.
People often attempt to regulate their partners’ problematic behavior to resolve relationship problems. My research has demonstrated that the implications of these partner-regulation behaviors often depend on contextual factors—that is, the behaviors that work well for some people, in certain situations, facing certain problems may not work well for others. For example, I’ve shown that although confronting non-depressed partners increases their problem-solving motivation, it decreases the motivation of people with depression.