Saul L. Miller
Research in my lab uses an evolutionary and biological perspective to investigate social cognitive processes in three primary domains: romantic relationships, social affiliation, and self-protection.
Romantic Relationships: Differential reproductive success is at the core of biological evolution. Consequently, people possess adaptive psychological and biological mechanisms aimed at solving reproductive challenges. My work on romantic relationships applies this perspective to answer such questions as: Why do people choose to pursue romantic relationships with some people, but not others? What are the psychological and physiological mechanisms that facilitate romantic attachment? What strategies do people use to protect their long-term relationships, and how do people cope when these strategies fail?
Social Affiliation: Humans have a fundamental need for positive social relationships. The ability to provide and receive resources and social support has played a key role in human evolution. It is not surprising, therefore, that we spend an extraordinary amount of time and energy forming and maintaining social alliances and friendships. My research in this area attempts to answer such questions as: What biological mechanisms underlie our motivation for social support? How do people attempt to gain social support from others? What are people willing to do in order to maintain and form friendships?
Self-Protection: From an evolutionary perspective, psychological processes are designed in part to help people avoid forms peril. Indeed, protecting oneself from physical harm is perhaps the most fundamental of human motivations. My research on self-protection is most often applied to intergroup relations. I attempt to answer such questions as: Do specific threats (e.g., physical threat, disease threat, economic threat) cause biases toward members of specific groups? What lower-order cognitive processes help people automatically avoid potential sources of threat? How do biological states influence self-protective processes?
To answer these questions, I use a range of methods, including salivary hormone measurements, self-report questionnaires, measures of implicit evaluations, lower-order measures of attention, and measures of overt behavior.
For more information and example publications, please see my webpage: http://www.uky.edu/~slmi227/index.htm