Primary Area: Social Psychology
Research and Teaching Interests:
Research in my lab integrates theory and methods from social psychology and evolutionary social science to address a broad, overarching question: How do humans maximize the benefits + minimize the costs of our intensely social worlds?
My work is primarily concerned with (1) redressing major gaps in our knowledge of how friendship works by explicating the design of friendship psychology. This work begins from the premise that having friends—and enjoying the related benefits—requires people to solve multiple distinct challenges (e.g., finding, making, competing for, keeping friends). I take a computational approach to systematically identifying these challenges and exploring the design of the psychological tools that people use to meet them.
A complementary line of research examines (2) how particularly women navigate the social relationship landscape, including their affiliative ties, rivalrous ones, and all those in between. By explicitly considering the recurrent and sometimes distinct challenges that women face—and often those involved in navigating relationships with other women—we might often discover social challenges (and their psychological solutions) faced by people across sex/gender. For example, particularly strong individuals can bargain for better treatment by threatening to inflict physical costs on their bargaining partners (e.g., friends, spouses, others). But, for one issue, women often eschew such physical aggression, suggesting that they—and perhaps others—might employ an overlooked repertoire of tactics to bargain effectively (e.g., the silent treatment).
(3) Our social perceptions play a role in shaping our social worlds. In navigating these worlds, people often make speedy inferences about the opportunities and threats others are likely to afford. But this affordance-management system is admittedly imperfect (e.g., it is biased to detect threats), and its use sets the stage for prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination—phenomena that are at once the products of our social minds as well as hurdles in our social landscapes. Some of my work identifies and describes these hurdles, especially those salient for women.
Krems, J. A., Hahnel-Peeters, R., Merrie, L. A., Williams, K. E. G., & Sznycer, D. (2023). Sometimes we want vicious friends: People have nuanced preferences for how they want friends to behave toward them versus others. Evolution and Human Behavior, 44(2), 88-98.
Patel, D., Krems, J. A., Stout, M., Byrd-Craven, J., & Hawkins, M. A. W. (2023). Parents of children with high weight are viewed as responsible for child weight and thus stigmatized. Psychological Science, 34(1), 35-46.
Krems, J. A., Williams, K. E. G., Merrie, L. A., Kenrick, D. T., & Aktipis, A. (2022). Sex similarities and differences in friendship jealousy. Evolution and Human Behavior, 43(2), 97-106.
Krems, J. A., Williams, K. E. G., Aktipis, A., & Kenrick, D. T. (2021). Friendship jealousy: One tool for maintaining friendships in the face of third-party threats? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 120(4), 977–1012.
Krems, J. A., Claessens, S., Fales, M. R., Campenni, M., Haselton, M. G., & Aktipis, A. (2021). An agent-based model of the female rivalry hypotheses for concealed ovulation in humans. Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 726-735.
Krems, J. A., Ko, A., Moon, J. W., & Varnum, M. E. W. (2021). Lay beliefs about gender and sexual behavior: First evidence for a pervasive, robust (but unfounded) stereotype. Psychological Science, 32(6), 871-889.
Krems, J. A., & Conroy-Beam, D. (2020). First tests of Euclidean preference integration in friendship: Euclidean friend value and power of choice on the friend market. Evolution and Human Behavior, 41(3), 188-198.