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
Joel, S., Spielmann, S. S., & MacDonald, G. (in press). Motivated use of numerical anchors for judgments relevant to the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
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.
MacDonald, G., Borsook, T., & Spielmann, S. S. (2011). Defensive avoidance of social pain via perceptions of social threat and reward. In G. MacDonald & L. A. Jensen-Campbell (Eds.), Social pain: A neuroscientific, social, and health psychology analysis (pp. 141-160). Washington, DC: APA Books.
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.
PSY2600: The Psychology of Social Behavior (4 credit hours), Fall 2017
PSY2600: The Psychology of Social Behavior (4 credit hours), Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Fall 2016
PSY3010: Statistical Methods in Psychology (4 credit hours), Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Winter 2017
PSY4995: The Social Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships (Special Topics) (3 credit hours), Winter 2017
Was on family leave Winter 2016