Dr. Baker will be accepting a graduate student for Fall 2017 admissions.

Research Interests.

My research takes a contextual perspective toward understanding close relationships and people's beliefs about themselves. More specifically, my research identifies the specific conditions that lead certain self-beliefs to benefit or harm close relationships. To more fully understand this association, my research frequently employs multiple research designs (e.g., experimental, longitudinal, observational, diary) and examines multiple relationship types (e.g., friendship, marriage, dating). I have demonstrated that the implications of various positive and negative self-beliefs for close relationships depend on qualities of the relationship, qualities of the individuals in the relationship, and aspects of the external environment.

Current Research.

More recently, I have become interested in how couples can most effectively resolve their relationship problems. To better understand this process, I have developed a theoretical model of relationship problem-solving. This model highlights the major stages of problem-solving, such as recognizing the problem, identifying and implementing a strategy to resolve the problem, and evaluating whether the problem was successfully resolved. Furthermore, this model identifies specific problem-resolution behaviors, such as blaming a partner, demanding behavioral changes, and providing support, that can facilitate or hinder the resolution process. Finally, this model emphasizes specific contexts in which these behaviors will be effective or ineffective and also identifies the mechanisms through which these behaviors affect relationship problems. For example, although confronting partners about their problematic behavior may motivate partners who believe they are capable of changing their behavior (i.e., possess high relationship self-efficacy), it may hinder decrease the motivation of partners who doubt their ability to change their behavior. My current research seeks to test numerous predictions made by this theoretical model.

Selected Publications.

Baker, L. R., & McNulty, J.K. (2015). Adding insult to injury: Partner depression moderates the association between partner-regulation attempts and partners’ motivation to resolve interpersonal problems. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 839-852.

Russell, V. M., McNulty, J. K., Baker, L. R., & Meltzer, A. L. (2014). The association between discontinuing hormonal contraceptives and wives’ marital satisfaction depends on husbands’ facial attractiveness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 17081-17086.

Baker, L. R., & McNulty, J.K. (2013). When low self-esteem encourages behaviors that risk rejection to increase interdependence: The role of relational self-construal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 995-1018.

Baker, L. R., McNulty, J.K., Overall, N. C., Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2013). How do relationship maintenance behaviors affect individual well-being?: A contextual perspective. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 282-289.

Baker, L. R., & McNulty, J.K. (2011). Self-compassion and relationship maintenance: The moderating roles of conscientiousness and gender. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 853–873.