Kevin Lewis

July 17, 2021

The Friends-to-Lovers Pathway to Romance: Prevalent, Preferred, and Overlooked by Science
Danu Anthony Stinson, Jessica Cameron & Lisa Hoplock
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


There is more than one pathway to romance, but relationship science does not reflect this reality. Our research reveals that relationship initiation studies published in popular journals (Study 1) and cited in popular textbooks (Study 2) overwhelmingly focus on romance that sparks between strangers and largely overlook romance that develops between friends. This limited focus might be justified if friends-first initiation was rare or undesirable, but our research reveals the opposite. In a meta-analysis of seven samples of university students and crowdsourced adults (Study 3; N = 1,897), two thirds reported friends-first initiation, and friends-first initiation was the preferred method of initiation among university students (Study 4). These studies affirm that friends-first initiation is a prevalent and preferred method of romantic relationship initiation that has been overlooked by relationship science. We discuss possible reasons for this oversight and consider the implications for dominant theories of relationship initiation.

Gay = STIs? Exploring gay and lesbian sexual health stereotypes and their implications for prejudice and discrimination
Dylan Rice, Sa-kiera Hudson & Nicole Noll
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


Gay men and lesbian women face health inequities as well as disparate treatment from healthcare providers. Stereotypes surrounding sexual health might contribute to these disparities. In five studies (N = 1858), we explored sexual health stereotypes about gay men and lesbian women and their implications in prejudice/discrimination. In Studies 1, 2A, and 2B, we found people explicitly associated gay men with promiscuity and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) more than lesbian women or straight men/women. In implicit association tests, both gay men and lesbian women were more associated with promiscuity and STIs than straight counterparts. Studies 3A and 3B showed that these associations have consequences: people expressed more prejudice and discrimination towards gay men and lesbian women with STIs versus those with non-STIs or straight counterparts with either disease type. Taken together, the current research identifies some psychological factors that may underpin health disparities and healthcare barriers for gay and lesbian people.

Birth Cohort Trends in Health Disparities by Sexual Orientation
Hui Liu & Rin Reczek
Demography, forthcoming


Lesbian, gay, and bisexual-identified (LGB) people experience worse mental and physical health than their straight-identified counterparts. Given remarkable social and legal changes regarding LGB status in recent decades, we theorize that this profound health disadvantage may be changing across cohorts. Using data from the 2013-2018 National Health and Interview Surveys, we analyze five mental and physical health outcomes - psychological distress, depression, anxiety, self-rated physical health, and activity limitation - across three birth cohorts colloquially known as (1) Millennials, (2) Generation Xers, and (3) Baby Boomers and pre-Boomers. We find no evidence of reduced health disparities by sexual orientation across cohorts. Instead, relative to straight-identified respondents, the health disadvantages of gay, lesbian, and - most strikingly - bisexual-identified people have increased across cohorts. Findings highlight the importance of identifying the causes of increased health disparities as well as designing and implementing more direct public policies and programs to eliminate health disparities among more recent LGB cohorts.

Closeness-Inducing Discussions with a Romantic Partner Increase Cortisol and Testosterone
Kristi Chin et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming


Despite progress in understanding the social neuroendocrinology of close relationship processes, most work has focused on negative experiences, such as relationship conflict or stress. As a result, much less is known about the neuroendocrine implications of positive, emotionally intimate close relationship experiences. In the current study, we randomly assigned 105 dating or married couples to a 30-minute semi-structured discussion task that was designed to elicit either high or low levels of closeness. Participants provided pre- and post-task saliva samples (to assess cortisol and testosterone) and post-task reports of self-disclosure, closeness, attraction, positive and negative affect, and stress. Participants found the discussion conditions comparably positive and enjoyable, but those in the high-closeness condition reported that they disclosed marginally more and felt marginally closer to their partners than those in the low-closeness condition. Participants also showed larger increases in cortisol and testosterone during the high (versus low) closeness discussion, and self-reported disclosure mediated these increases in cortisol and testosterone. Self-reported closeness and other theoretically plausible mediators, such as sexual attraction and excitement, did not mediate changes in either hormone. Taken together, the current findings contribute to our understanding of neuroendocrine changes associated with emotionally intimate close relationship experiences. We consider possible explanations for the hormone changes we observed and offer direction for future research on the neuroendocrine implications of close relationship experiences.

We Succeeded Together, Now What: Relationship Power and Sequential Decisions in Couples' Joint Goal Pursuits
Hristina Nikolova & Gergana Nenkov
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming


Research has demonstrated that after making high goal progress consumers feel liberated to engage in goal-inconsistent behaviors. But what happens after consumers make high progress in the context of joint goal pursuit? We examine how jointly-made progress towards a joint goal pursued by couples affects subsequent individually-made goal-relevant decisions. Across five experiments with both lab-created couples and married participants and financial data from a couples' money management mobile app, we show that after making high progress on a joint goal (vs. low or no progress), higher relationship power partners are more likely to disengage from the joint goal to pursue personal concerns (e.g., indulge themselves or pursue individual goals), whereas lower relationship power partners do not disengage from the joint goal and continue engaging in goal-consistent actions that maintain its pursuit. We elucidate the underlying mechanism, providing evidence that the joint goal progress boosts the relational self-concept of high (but not low) relationship power partners and this drives the effects. Importantly, we demonstrate the effectiveness of two theory-grounded and easily implementable interventions which promote goal-consistent behaviors among high relationship power consumers in the context of joint savings goals.


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