The primary aim in the MacLab right now is to better understand well-being in singlehood. Although it’s true that the average person in a romantic relationship is higher in well-being than the average person who is single, there is also considerable variability among single people. It’s that within-group variability among single people that we are most interested in understanding. In short, given that we know that there is a considerable number of happy single people out there, the question is which single people are relatively happy and which single people are relatively unhappy?
Our research so far has started to paint a portrait of the happy single person; a happy single person is more likely to be happy with their friendships (Park et al., 2021), to be happy with their sex life (either by being low in sexual desire or by having relatively frequent partnered sex; Park & MacDonald, 2022), to be older than 40 (Park et al., in press), to be low in desire for a partner (Hill Roy et al., under review), to be strongly motivated by independence (Park et al., under review), and to be high in secure attachment (MacDonald & Park, 2022). If understanding single people is a puzzle, we don’t think it’s one we’re ready to solve because we’re still in the process of finding all the pieces. There’s a lot of exciting work to do in this direction!
Another consistent theme in the MacLab’s work is attachment. Although this isn’t the primary focus of the lab anymore, it often finds its way into our work (e.g., MacDonald & Park, 2022). Recent attachment related projects include showing that the lyrics of popular songs about relationships are getting more avoidant over time (Alaei et al., in press), that both anxious and avoidant people report relatively less frequent experiences of positive emotion relative to more secure people (Park et al., in press), that communicating affection to avoidant people may go better when verbal and nonverbal messages are amplified (Schrage et al., 2020), and that avoidant LGBTQ+ individuals may have trouble forming connections with their community and thus struggle more with internalized heterosexism (Sanscartier & MacDonald, 2019).
Having said all that, much of the research in my lab is student-driven, so it is difficult to anticipate what direction the lab’s work will take in the future. For example, my past students have developed ideas around fears of being single (e.g., Spielmann et al., 2013), relationship decision making (e.g., Joel et al., 2013), and implicit beliefs about sexuality (e.g., Maxwell et al., 2017). I’m always open to pursuing a good idea.
Please note I am accepting graduate students for Fall 2024.
Photo credit: Me!