Stephanie Spielmann

Stephanie Spielmann

Assistant Professor


Stephanie Spielmann



Research Interest/Area of Expertise

  • What motivates people to pursue romantic relationships with undesirable partners, such as someone unresponsive, someone who doesn't meet their needs, or an ex-partner who has recently rejected them? With literally millions of possible romantic partners to choose from, what forces drive people to put themselves in risky or dissatisfying relationships?

    My program of research broadly explores the dynamics of romantic relationships. In particular, much of my research has explored the role of insecurity in unhealthy relational choices. For instance, I examine how insecurities promote maladaptive relational outcomes by exaggerating perceptions of threats and restraining perceptions of rewards. My research demonstrates that insecure individuals make many maladaptive relational choices based on threat avoidance motivations, such as the fear of rejection or the fear of being single. My research also suggests that the less examined motivating force of perceived opportunity for rewards, such as intimacy and close connection, is an important predictor of romantic decisions. Furthermore, I have been careful to examine the impact of these forces through the lens of relevant theoretical frames, especially attachment theory. Taken together, my program of research highlights the importance of individual differences in perceptions of social threat and reward for romantic relationship regulation and sheds light on the factors underlying maladaptive relational choices.


 Social Psychology, Close Relationships

Education – Degrees, Licenses, Certifications

  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Toronto, 2013
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Social Psychology, University of Toronto, 2013-2014

Selected Publications

Spielmann, S. S., Joel, S., & Impett, E. A. (in press). Pursuing sex with an ex: Does it hinder breakup recovery? Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Joel, S., Impett, E. A., Spielmann, S. S., & MacDonald, G. (in press). How interdependent are stay/leave decisions? On staying in the relationship for the sake of the romantic partner. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Joel, S., Spielmann, S. S., & MacDonald, G. (2017). Motivated use of numerical anchors for judgments relevant to the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 972-985.

Spielmann, S. S., & MacDonald, G. (2016). Nice guys finish first when presented second: Responsive daters are evaluated more positively following exposure to unresponsive daters. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 64, 99-105.

Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., Joel, S., & Impett, E. A. (2016). Longing for ex-partners out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality, 84, 799-808.

Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., Maxwell, J. A., Joel, S., Peragine, D., Muise, A., & Impett, E. A. (2013). Settling for less out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 1049-1073.

Gere, J., MacDonald, G., Joel, S., Spielmann, S. S., & Impett, E. A. (2013). The independent contributions of social reward and threat perceptions to romantic commitment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 961-977.

Spielmann, S. S., Maxwell, J. A., MacDonald, G., & Baratta, P. L. (2013). Don't get your hopes up: Avoidantly attached individuals perceive lower social reward when there is potential for intimacy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 219-236.

Spielmann, S. S., Joel, S., MacDonald, G., & Kogan, A. (2013). Ex appeal: Current relationship quality and emotional attachment to ex-partners. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 175-180.

Maxwell, J. A., Spielmann, S. S., Joel, S., & MacDonald, G. (2013). Attachment theory as a framework for understanding responses to social exclusion. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7, 444-456.

MacDonald, G., Locke, K. D., Spielmann, S. S., & Joel, S. (2013). Insecure attachment predicts ambivalent social threat and reward perceptions in romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30, 647-661.

Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., & Tackett, J. L. (2012). Social threat, social reward, and the regulation of investment in romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 19, 601-622.

Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., & Wilson, A. E. (2009). On the rebound: Focusing on someone new helps anxiously attached individuals let go of ex-partners. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1382-1394.

Currently Teaching

  • Dr. Spielmann is on sabbatical during Winter 2019.

Courses taught

PSY4330: The Social Psychology of Close Relationships, Fall 2018

PSY2600: The Psychology of Social Behavior (4 credit hours), Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Fall 2018

PSY3010: Statistical Methods in Psychology (4 credit hours), Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Winter 2018

PSY4995: The Social Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships (Special Topics) (3 credit hours), Winter 2017

Was on family leave Winter 2016