Dr. Laura VanderDrift’s research interests center on inter- and intra-personal dynamics of close relationships. Specifically, she examines predictors of relationship outcomes, most notably dissolution behaviors and health outcomes, as well as the processes associated with these outcomes. She is the director of the Interdependent Relationships Laboratory.
Her research currently focuses on why people leave their relationships. This deceptively simple question has dominated Dr. VanderDrift’s thinking and work to date. In this work, she researches what process occurs that moves individuals from experiencing flagging commitment to actually leaving their relationships. She has developed a construct called dissolution consideration to encapsulate the increased salience of dissolution that people experience just prior to leaving their relationship. Subsequently, she has examined myriad processes associated with dissolution, including:
-the process by which need fulfillment is associated with stay-leave behavior, finding that personal needs promote commitment, whereas relational needs are directly associated with stay-leave behavior (VanderDrift & Agnew, 2012).
-whether valuing the friendship component of a romance more than other aspects is associated with relationship persistence. It is. (VanderDrift, Wilson, & Agnew, 2013; VanderDrift, Lehmiller, & Kelly, 2012)
-how active goal pursuits derail the maintenance necessary for persistence by refocusing attention and biasing relational information processing (VanderDrift & Agnew, 2014)