The Evolutionary Psychology Lab, directed by Jon Maner, focuses on the interplay between motivation, emotion, and social cognition. Specific research areas include: close relationships (e.g., romantic attraction and the maintenance of long-term relationships), power and leadership, social affiliation and rejection, and self-protective processes.


Graduate Students

Anastasia “Stacey” Makhanova is predominantly interested in the physiological and motivational influences on person perception. One of her main research interests is how the motivation to avoid disease influences avoidance of certain others. She examines how both chronic disease concerns (e.g., people's germ aversion in their daily lives) and situationally activated disease concerns (e.g., primed motivational states) are associated with social distancing and assortative sociality. Additionally, she examines how the activation of the physiological immune system might mediate the activation of these psychological biases. She is also interested in examining hormonal underpinnings of perceptions in close relationships. So far, she has examined behaviors of newlywed couples in problem-solving discussions, pregnant women's affiliative behavior with friends and family, and women's social perceptions across the menstrual cycle. Broadly, she is  interested in taking an evolutionary approach in examining neuroendocrinological processes that affect social perception.

 

Tania Reynold’s research explores the various ways humans select, compete for, and maintain social partnerships. People use their alliances to gain access to resources, protection, care, and mating opportunities. Tania’s work on partner selection found that people use both the human grief response and homosexuality as cues of others’ underlying traits and proclivities, which then inform alliance decisions. Her work on female competition explores how women use social information and reputational denigration to outcompete each other for the best mates and allies. People must also detect and respond to threats in their relationships. Based on research supported by the NSF graduate fellowship, she has found that when people feel anxiety about their romantic relationships, they show increased progesterone levels. This suggests that relationship insecurities extend beyond our thoughts, influencing our hormones and physiology. Because men highly value attractiveness when choosing their mates, a disparity in partner attractiveness may be particularly threatening to women in romantic relationships. Indeed, her lab research found that when women are unattractive but married to attractive men, women show higher disordered eating and desires to be thin, perhaps as a way to decrease this disparity. When people are not satisfied with their romantic relationships, they occasionally seek extra-pair partners. Her research finds that men and women differ in their motivations for infidelity. Men are more likely to cheat when they are sexually dissatisfied and women are more likely to cheat when they are emotionally dissatisfied.


Research Assistants

Connor

Connor Hasty's research interests focus on using an evolutionary social psychological approach to study social hierarchy, mating strategies, and disgust. His previous research includes studies on political biases, human sex differences, and the brain basis of pair-bonding in the socially monogamous prairie vole. In his free time, Connor is interested in studying expert performance in mixed martial arts competition.


Amanda

Amanda Kirsch's primary research interests involve the behavioral immune system, the physiological immune system, and the interplay between the two. More broadly, Amanda seeks to understand any human behavior in the context of evolution—in particular, behaviors that do not immediately appear to be advantageous. Also, she is interested in the impact ancient adaptations can have in modern society.


Lab Alumni

Sarah Ainsworth, University of North Florida

Michael Baker, East Carolina University

Charleen Case, University of Michigan

Kyle Conlon, Stephen F. Austin State University

Nathan DeWall,  University of Kentucky

Adam Fay, SUNY Oswego

Jonathan Kunstman, Miami University Ohio

Jennifer Leo, Holleran Consulting

Nicole Mead, University of Melbourne

Andrew Menzel

Saul Miller

Justin Moss, Arkansas Tech University

D. Aaron Rouby