School of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Sadie Leder Elder



Associate Professor of Psychology

(336) 841-9430

212 Couch Hall






Ph.D.   2010    University at Buffalo, the State University of New York
Social/Personality Psychology
Dissertation: A Risk Regulation Model of Romantic Interest: Examining the Role of Attachment in Regulating the Expression of Romantic Desire

M.A.    2004   Wake Forest University
Experimental Psychology
Master’s Thesis:  Intimacy Motivation Theory: Investigating the Role of Relationship Motivation in Predicting Feelings of Romantic Love

B.S.     2001    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Biology & Psychology
Minor in Chemistry

Courses Taught:

  • Close Relationships
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Love and Hate in Cyberspace
  • Personality Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Social Cognition
  • Social Influence
  • Social Psychology
  • Survey Research Center Practicum

Research Interests:

My research program focuses on the study of close relationships.  More specifically, I have centered my investigations on the conflict people experience between the goal to seek closeness and the goal to self-protect against rejection. My work builds from the idea that people have a fundamental need for connection.  To satisfy this need, people must ultimately risk rejection.  For instance, creating and maintaining satisfying relationships requires people to take a leap of faith or disclose private feelings.  In a perfect world, partners would always respond with acceptance and love.  Unfortunately, people sometimes find that making themselves vulnerable can lead to hurt, embarrassment, or rejection.  I am fascinated by how people negotiate the competing drives for connection and protection when navigating romantic life.

One line of research examines these drives in the context of partner selection and relationship initiation.  Much of my research in this area focuses on who is likely to approach vs. avoid a potential romantic partner and under what conditions people may place priority on one goal over the other.  Briefly, my research suggests that individuals (particularly those with more secure attachment orientations) tend to balance their competing goals through the use of strategic partner selection preferences.  That is, under normal circumstances, individuals show a preference for the “best” possible partner.  However, when concerned about the possibility of rejection, they show a preference for “safer” partners to optimize the likelihood of connection.  Results suggest that this strategic partner selection may be driven by an automatic activation of connection drives in situations with romantic potential.  Less secure participants, on the other hand, don’t seem to show the same activation of connection drives in response to available partners, and thus, fail to utilize strategic selection when in partner selection situations.

Other lines of research have investigated this goal negotiation within the context of ongoing romantic relationships (both dating and married), as well as looked specifically at the experience of romantic love, hurt feelings, and relationship rekindling.


Psychology at HPU


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