Ellen S Berscheid
My theoretical and empirical work is primarily in the domain of close interpersonal relationships. I am particularly interested in problems associated with relationship satisfaction and stability, relationship cognition, and emotional experiences within relationships, especially love and sexual desire.
In contrast to most previous investigations of relationship satisfaction, which have focused on the attributes of the relationship partners, my recent theoretical and empirical work has been directed toward understanding how features of the relationship's "exterior" -- its physical and social environments -- influence the relationship's "interior" and the partners' satisfaction with the relationship.
Our research group currently is conducting several investigations of the factors people believe are enhancing the quality of their current romantic relationships and those they believe are reducing its quality from what it would otherwise be.
We hypothesize that, like most relationship therapists, people typically focus on "personal" causal conditions (their own dispositions, their partner's dispositions, and the manner in which these intersect) and tend to overlook environmental conditions that influence relationship quality. The causal attributions people make for the quality of their own and others' relationships are important because they guide the actions people take to maintain and improve the quality of their relationships, the advice they give to others in distressed relationships, and such attributions also often influence public policy decisions intended to promote relationship stability.