Anastasia Makhanova: Research Interests

My research examines links between people's physiological processes and their social perceptions. Broadly, I am interested in assessing the ways in which neuroendocrinological, immunological, and genetic processes underlie perception of close others and of outgroup members. I am also interested in experimental manipulations of fundamental motives that influence people's social behavior in these contexts.

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Relationship Maintenance

In some of my research, I examine processes that help people maintain their social relationships. I have examined both how biological processes may underlie people's vigilance to their social connections and how biological processes may promote behaviors that help couples maintain relationship satisfaction during stressful times. For example, I have examined how progesterone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle are associated with women's increased social vigilance and anxiety (Reynolds, Makhanova, et al., 2018, Hormones and Behavior). I hope to continue this line of work by examining women's social perception during pregnancy, in the transition to motherhood, and during menopause. For close relationships between romantic partners, I examined underlying influences relating to the oxytocin and vasopressin systems (systems that are important for pair-bonding in humans and nonhuman animals). I have found preliminary evidence that variation in the oxytocin and vasopressin receptor genes is associated with satisfaction at the start, and over the first few years, of marriage. I plan to continue examining the underlying biological processes that may promote (versus undermine) pair-bonding and relationship maintenance. In the future, I would like to examine another period of transition for couples - the transition to parenthood.