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Dr. Jessica Maxwell joins the Social Psychology Program

Dec 20, 2022

We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jessica Maxwell to the Social Psychology Program as our newest Assistant Professor! Jess is a social psychologist who is jointly appointed to the Department of Health, Aging & Society. She studies how couples can best maximize their relationship well-being and sexual well-being - a topic of particular importance given that people are increasingly drawing their sense of self-worth from the quality of their long-term romantic relationships and expect a passionate sex life as part of a fulfilling relationship. If you are in SOCPSY 2F03 - Psychology of Close Relationships or HLTH AGE 2K03 - Sex & Wellbeing in the winter term, you will be hearing a lot more about her research in the new year!

Jess did her PhD studies at the University of Toronto, studying how having a growth mindset towards your sex life can benefit your relationship and sex life. She then did a postdoctoral fellowship at Florida State University, studying how conflict affects newlywed couples’ sex lives. She has been an Assistant Professor for the past three years at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where she has continued to examine romantic relationship dynamics. 

In particular, she assess how individual differences in expectations and perceptions influence sexual and relationship well-being, examining factors such as how individuals expect they can best maintain sexual satisfaction, how accurate they are in detecting their partners’ feelings and sexual preferences, and how political beliefs may shape sexual satisfaction. She also investigate the insecurities individuals hold that may jeopardize their relationship success. For example, exploring how those with anxious and avoidant attachment experience casual sex encounters, how those high in fear of being single fare at speed-dating, and how people high in perfectionism experience work-life balance.

To tackle these research questions, she uses a variety of methods, including longitudinal, dyadic, experience sampling, experimental, speed-dating, eye-tracking, and implicit assessments.

Her current research focuses on the generalisability of existing findings in the literature, such as examining whether findings hold true across different sexual orientations and socioeconomic statuses.

She is recruiting graduate students for 2023 in the Department of Health, Aging & Society and is open to investigating various topics at the intersection of sexuality and relationships.