Eli J Finkel's research while affiliated with Northwestern University and other places

Publications (152)

Article
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Rising partisan animosity is associated with a reduction in support for democracy and an increase in support for political violence. Here we provide a multi-level review of interventions designed to reduce partisan animosity, which we define as negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours towards a political outgroup. We introduce the TRI framework t...
Article
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There are massive literatures on initial attraction and established relationships. But few studies capture early relationship development: the interstitial period in which people experience rising and falling romantic interest for partners who could—but often do not—become sexual or dating partners. In this study, 208 single participants reported o...
Article
There are two unresolved puzzles in the literature examining how people evaluate mates (i.e., prospective or current romantic/sexual partners). First, compatibility is theoretically crucial, but attempts to explain why certain perceivers are compatible with certain targets have revealed small effects. Second, features of partners (e.g., personality...
Preprint
Full-text available
Rising partisan animosity is linked to less support for democracy and more support for political violence. Here we provide a multi-level review of interventions designed to improve partisan animosity, which we define as negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors towards a political outgroup. We introduce the TRI framework for the three levels of in...
Article
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Lower SES (socioeconomic status) couples tend to face particular challenges in their relationships. Relative to higher SES couples, they are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce-but they do not value their romantic relationships any less. Drawing on risk regulation theory and theories of social class as culture, we suggest that lower SES...
Preprint
There are massive literatures on initial romantic attraction and established, “official” relationships. But there is a gap in our knowledge about early relationship development: the interstitial stretch of time in which people experience rising and falling romantic interest for partners who have the potential to—but often do not—become sexual or da...
Article
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We conducted a preregistered multi-laboratory project (k = 36; N = 3531) to assess the size and robustness of ego depletion effects using a novel replication method, termed the paradigmatic replication approach. Laboratories implemented one of two procedures that intended to manipulate self control and tested performance on a subsequent measure of...
Article
A poisonous cocktail of othering, aversion, and moralization poses a threat to democracy
Article
Laypersons and scholars often presume that people positively evaluate partners who match their ideal partner preferences: If Faye prefers kindness in a partner and Sonia prefers ambition, Faye should be especially attracted to kind partners and Sonia should be especially attracted to ambitious ones. However, to date, most published tests of this id...
Article
Given the powerful implications of relationship quality for health and well-being, a central mission of relationship science is explaining why some romantic relationships thrive more than others. This large-scale project used machine learning (i.e., Random Forests) to 1) quantify the extent to which relationship quality is predictable and 2) identi...
Article
Given the powerful implications of relationship quality for health and well-being, a central mission of relationship science is explaining why some romantic relationships thrive more than others. This large-scale project used machine learning (i.e., Random Forests) to 1) quantify the extent to which relationship quality is predictable and 2) identi...
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This research introduces the construct of couple identity clarity—the extent to which an individual, as one of two partners in a romantic relationship, believes that the two of them know who they are as a couple. Cross-sectional (Studies 1–2), experimental (Study 3), and longitudinal (Study 4) studies supported the hypothesis that couple identity c...
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The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behaviour change and places significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences can be used to help align human behaviour with the recommendations of epidemiologists and public health experts. Here...
Preprint
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The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive, global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behavior change and poses significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences are critical for optimizing pandemic response. Here we review relevant research from a diversity of research areas rel...
Article
We investigated whether a growth mindset intervention could be leveraged to promote performance and interest in computer science, through what mechanisms it might do so, and whether effects were stronger for women than for men. In particular, we explored whether the growth mindset intervention improved academic performance and career interest by in...
Article
Romantic passion typically declines over time, but a downward trajectory is not inevitable. Across 3 studies (1 of which encompassed 2 substudies), we investigated whether creativity helps bolster romantic passion in established relationships. Studies 1A and 1B revealed that people with highly creative personalities report not only greater overall...
Article
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This article introduces a metatheoretical framework—the Relationship Trajectories Framework—that conceptualizes how human mating relationships develop across their complete time span, from the moment two people meet until the relationship ends. The framework depicts relationships as arc-shaped evaluative trajectories that vary on five dimensions: s...
Article
A major idea in relationship science is that partners in a close relationship can “sculpt” each other in a manner that helps them align more closely with their ideal, or true, self. This sculpting metaphor is compelling, elegant, and generative, but it also possesses previously unrecognized liabilities, especially in its conceptualization of the id...
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The present research introduces the construct of a decay theory of passion—a lay belief that romantic passion decline is irreversible—and investigates how this construct interacts with existing levels of passion for one’s romantic partner to predict lower relationship commitment and greater pursuit of romantic alternatives. Across three studies emp...
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Theories of goal pursuit typically conceptualize goal pursuers as isolated actors; in contrast, empirical research from diverse areas of psychology has demonstrated that goal setting, pursuit, and achievement are deeply embedded within social relationships. Because much of this emerging literature is developing within subfields with minimal cross t...
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Many psychological hypotheses require testing whether the similarity between two variables predicts important outcomes. For example, the ideal standards model posits that the match between (A) a participant’s ideal partner preferences, and (B) the traits of a current/potential partner, predicts (C) evaluative outcomes (e.g., the decision to date so...
Article
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Attachment shapes people’s experiences in their close relationships and their self-views. Although attachment avoidance and anxiety both undermine relationships, past research has primarily emphasized detrimental effects of anxiety on the self-concept. However, as partners can help people maintain stable self-views, avoidant individuals’ negative v...
Article
This article reports on an adversarial (but friendly) collaboration examining the issues that lie at the intersection of confidentiality and open-data practices. We describe the process we followed to share our data for a speed-dating article we recently published in Psychological Science (Joel, Eastwick, & Finkel, 2017) and provide a summary of th...
Article
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Building on principles of evolutionary psychology and sociometer theory, we propose that people feel worse about the extent to which they have forgiven when their forgiveness level increases their risk of exploitation or their risk of spoiling a valuable relationship. We predicted that people would feel worse about their forgiveness level when they...
Article
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People often pursue self-change, and having a romantic partner who supports these changes increases relationship satisfaction. However, most existing research focuses only on the experience of the person who is changing. What predicts whether people support their partner’s change? People with low self-concept clarity resist self-change, so we hypot...
Article
We present theory suggesting that experiences at work that meet employees' expectations of need fulfillment drive work engagement. Employees have needs (e.g., a desire to be authentic) and they also have expectations for how their job or their organization will fulfill them. We argue that experiences at work that confirm employees' need fulfillment...
Article
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Matchmaking companies and theoretical perspectives on close relationships suggest that initial attraction is, to some extent, a product of two people’s self-reported traits and preferences. We used machine learning to test how well such measures predict people’s overall tendencies to romantically desire other people (actor variance) and to be desir...
Article
Finkel, Eastwick, and Reis (2015; FER2015) argued that psychological science is better served by responding to apprehensions about replicability rates with contextualized solutions than with one-sizefits- all solutions. Here, we extend FER2015's analysis to suggest that much of the discussion of best research practices since 2011 has focused on a s...
Preprint
Close relationships theoretical perspectives and matchmaking companies suggest that initial attraction is, to some extent, a product of two people’s self-reported traits and preferences. We used machine learning to test how well such measures predict people’s overall tendencies to romantically desire others (actor variance) and to be desired by oth...
Article
Relationship science is a theory-rich discipline, but there have been no attempts to articulate the broader themes or principles that cut across the theories themselves. We have sought to fill that void by reviewing the psychological literature on close relationships, particularly romantic relationships, to extract its core principles. This review...
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The I³ Model is a general-purpose metatheory. It posits that three orthogonal processes influence the likelihood and intensity of a given behavior, including aggressive behavior. Instigation encompasses immediate environmental stimuli (e.g., provocation) that normatively afford an aggressive response. Impellance encompasses situational or dispositi...
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Transactive Goal Dynamics (TGD) Theory is a multi-level, relational theory of goal pursuit that can be used to understand behavior within organizational teams. The theory describes the nature of goal-related interdependence (called transactive density) within dyads and groups, and predicts when transactive density will have positive versus negative...
Article
When does power in intimate relationships shape important interpersonal behaviors, such as psychological aggression? Five studies tested whether possessing low relationship power was associated with aggressive responses, but (a) only within power-relevant relationship interactions when situational power was low, and (b) only by men because masculin...
Article
We investigated how power dynamics in close relationships influence the tendency to devote resources to the pursuit of goals valued by relationship partners, hypothesizing that low (vs. high) power in relationships would lead individuals to center their individual goal pursuit around the goals of their partners. We study 2 related phenomena: partne...
Article
We investigated how power dynamics in close relationships influence the tendency to devote resources to the pursuit of goals valued by relationship partners, hypothesizing that low (vs. high) power in relationships would lead individuals to center their individual goal pursuit around the goals of their partners. We study 2 related phenomena: partne...
Article
Across two field studies of romantic attraction, we demonstrate that postural expansiveness makes humans more romantically appealing. In a field study (n= 144 speed-dates), we coded nonverbal behaviors associated with liking, love, and dominance. Postural expansiveness-expanding the body in physical space-was most predictive of attraction, with eac...
Conference Paper
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Responsiveness to one’s bids for proximity in times of need is a linchpin of human interaction. As such, the ability to be perceived as responsive has design implications for socially assistive robotics. We report on a large-scale experimental laboratory study (n=102) examining robot responsiveness and its effects on human attitudes and behaviors....
Article
Relationship researchers and evolutionary psychologists have been studying human mating for decades, but research inspired by these two perspectives often yields fundamentally different images of how people mate. Research in the relationship science tradition frequently emphasizes ways in which committed relationship partners are motivated to maint...
Article
Transactive goal dynamics (TGD) theory conceptualizes 2 or more interdependent people as 1 single self-regulating system. Six tenets describe the nature of goal interdependence, predict its emergence, predict when it will lead to positive goal outcomes during and after the relationship, and predict the consequences for the relationship. Both partne...
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In the new millennium, scholars have built a robust intersection between close-relationships research and self-regulation research. However, virtually no work has investigated how the most basic and broad indicator of relationship quality, relationship satisfaction, affects self-regulation and vice versa. In the present research, we show that highe...
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Clear empirical demonstrations of the theoretical principles underlying assortative mating remain elusive. This article examines a moderator of assortative mating-how well couple members knew each other before dating-suggested by recent findings related to market-based (i.e., competition) theories. Specifically, competition is pervasive to the exte...
Article
Throughout American history, the fundamental purpose of marriage has shifted from (a) helping spouses meet their basic economic and political needs to (b) helping them meet their intimacy and passion needs to (c) helping them meet their autonomy and personal-growth needs. According to the suffocation model of marriage in America, these changes have...
Article
Relative to other primates, Homo sapiens are born immature. To survive, they require intensive provisioning and nurturance across many years. One evolved mechanism for fostering such caregiving is for parents to pairbond-. to develop and sustain a deep emotional connection to each other. -. which bolsters fathers' contributions to childrearing. Suc...
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Relationship science is a major bridge connecting the social, behavioral, and life sciences. It is a deeply theoretical discipline, one characterized by excellent cross-theoretical thinking and research. This inaugural issue of Current Opinion in Psychology showcases some of the newest discoveries in relationship science, discoveries which are begi...
Article
With friends, family members, romantic partners, and coworkers, people form interdependent units, shaping each other's everyday experiences. According to the Transactive Goal Dynamics model, goal pursuit occurs within these units, not apart from them. As a result, a great deal of goal pursuit is interpersonally driven and influenced. Although histo...
Article
In recent years, a robust movement has emerged within psychology to increase the evidentiary value of our science. This movement, which has analogs throughout the empirical sciences, is broad and diverse, but its primary emphasis has been on the reduction of statistical false positives. The present article addresses epistemological and pragmatic is...
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The sexual system evolved to motivate reproductive acts. As such, its manifestations (e.g., sexual desire and behavior) are not necessarily related to emotional attachments. Still, within romantic relationships, sexual desire can motivate the attachment bonding process and lead to intensely meaningful experiences that affect the quality of a relati...
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This article began as an adversarial collaboration between two groups of researchers with competing views on a longstanding question: Does familiarity promote or undermine interpersonal attraction? As we explored our respective positions, it became clear that the limitations of our conceptualizations of the familiarity-attraction link, as well as t...
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In the 12 years since scholars first investigated the link between self-control and forgiveness (Finkel & Campbell, 2001), the literature investigating this relation has grown rapidly. The present article reports a meta-analytic review of this link across 40 independent samples and 5,105 independent observations. In addition, it investigates an arr...
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This article elaborates on evolutionary perspectives relevant to the meta-analytic portion of our recent review (Eastwick, Luchies, Finkel, & Hunt, 2014). We suggested that if men and women evolved sex-differentiated ideals (i.e., mate preferences), then they should exhibit sex-differentiated desires (e.g., romantic attraction) and/or relational ou...
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Research on close relationships has frequently contrasted one's own interests with the interests of the partner or the relationship and has tended to view the partner's and the relationship's interests as inherently aligned. The present article demonstrated that relationship commitment typically causes people to support their partner's personal int...
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This article distills insights from historical, sociological, and psychological perspectives on marriage to develop the suffocation model of marriage in America. According to this model, contemporary Americans are asking their marriage to help them fulfill different sets of goals than in the past. Whereas they ask their marriage to help them fulfil...
Article
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This article serves as a response to the 13 commentaries on the target article, which introduced the suffocation model of marriage in America. This reply has four main sections. First, it presents an elaborated version of the suffocation model that was inspired by the commentaries. Second, it addresses three areas of significant disagreement that e...
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In a longitudinal data set of married couples, Meltzer, McNulty, Jackson, and Karney (2014) reported that partner physical attractiveness is more strongly associated with relationship satisfaction for men than for women. Although a recent meta-analysis (Eastwick, Luchies, Finkel, & Hunt, in press) provided no support for this sex difference across...
Article
Psychological research on behavior has waned in recent decades. One underappreciated reason for this trend is that the field lacks a general-purpose framework targeted to the study of behavior. This chapter presents one such framework, a metatheory called the I3 Model (pronounced "I-cubed model"), which suggests that all behavior emerges from a com...
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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 validati...
Article
In the past 25 years, relationship science has grown from a nascent research area to a thriving subdiscipline of psychological science. In no small measure, this development reflects the pioneering contributions of Ellen Berscheid and Elaine Hatfield. Beginning at a time when relationships did not appear on the map of psychological science, these t...
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Aggression pervades modern life. To understand the root causes of aggression, researchers have developed several methods to assess aggressive inclinations. The current article introduces a new behavioral method-the voodoo doll task (VDT)-that offers a reliable and valid trait and state measure of aggressive inclinations across settings and relation...
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Marital quality is a major contributor to happiness and health. Unfortunately, marital quality normatively declines over time. We tested whether a novel 21-min intervention designed to foster the reappraisal of marital conflicts could preserve marital quality in a sample of 120 couples enrolled in an intensive 2-year study. Half of the couples were...
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Although previous theories and research have suggested that human behavior is automatically driven by selfish impulses (e.g., vengeance rather than forgiveness), the present research tested the hypothesis that in close relationships, people's impulsive inclination is to be prosocial and to sacrifice for their partner-to pursue the interests of the...
Article
The “similarity-attraction” effect stands as one of the most well-known findings in social psychology. However, some research contends that perceived but not actual similarity influences attraction. The current study is the first to examine the effects of actual and perceived similarity simultaneously during a face-to-face initial romantic encounte...
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Close relationships fulfill many important needs. However, not all of these needs are equally salient under all circumstances. This article investigated how the broad motivational context in which people evaluate relationships affects the salience of particular needs, thereby altering how the fulfillment of these needs predicts relationship well-be...
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A central element of interdependence theory is that people have standards against which they compare their current outcomes, and one ubiquitous standard in the mating domain is the preference for particular attributes in a partner (ideal partner preferences). This article reviews research on the predictive validity of ideal partner preferences and...
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The social psychological literature and the evolutionary literature on power suggest different routes by which power might inspire romantic desire: the former highlights the appealing actions of the powerful, whereas the latter demonstrates that people desire powerful individuals upon learning of those individuals' powerful status. We predicted tha...
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Relative to people with low trust in their romantic partner, people with high trust tend to expect that their partner will act in accordance with their interests. Consequently, we suggest, they have the luxury of remembering the past in a way that prioritizes relationship dependence over self-protection. In particular, they tend to exhibit relation...
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Two studies of romantic couples examined the circumstances under which complementary goal-pursuit strategies (specifically, the pairing of a relationship partner who prefers to pursue goals eagerly with a relationship partner who prefers to pursue goals vigilantly) lead to positive relationship outcomes. As hypothesized, couples who reported higher...
Article
Prior research suggests that people frequently mispredict their own and other people's emotional responses. In a longitudinal study, both members of 104 couples predicted the degree to which they (affective forecast) and their partner (empathic forecast) would experience sadness in response to 20 relationship transgres-sions, in both victim and per...
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This review builds on self-control theory (Carver & Scheier, 1998) to develop a theoretical framework for investigating associations of implicit theories with self-regulation. This framework conceptualizes self-regulation in terms of 3 crucial processes: goal setting, goal operating, and goal monitoring. In this meta-analysis, we included articles...
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Understanding the psychology of online dating can turn a frustrating experience into a fruitful mission
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A laboratory experiment tested whether conciliatory behavior predicts lower blood pressure following spouses' discussion of a recent marital transgression. Sixty‐eight married couples discussed unresolved transgressions—with random assignment determining whether the husband or the wife was in the victim role—and then rated victim and perpetrator co...
Article
Research on implicit theories suggests that incremental beliefs—that attributes are malleable—can help buffer people against the adverse effects of setbacks on goal achievement. We conducted a longitudinal experiment to examine whether an incremental beliefs intervention could help dieters manage their body weight in the face of severe dieting setb...