Laura VanderDrift Machia, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology @ Syracuse University


(315) 443-1842

410 Huntington Hall

*Note: Name changed from Laura Elizabeth VanderDrift to Laura VanderDrift Machia in 2018*

Educational Background


Social Psychology, Purdue University, 2012


Psychology & Sociology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2006

Research Interests

Broadly, my research interests lie in understanding interdependent social processes. Heavily influenced by Interdependence Theory, I study how individuals’ personal characteristics (i.e., those that are not dependent upon specific relational contexts) and relational characteristics (i.e., those that pertain to interpersonal dynamics) reciprocally influence each other and combine to predict relationship outcomes, most notably dissolution processes and health outcomes.

Why do people leave their relationships? This deceptively simple question has dominated my thinking and work to date, beginning with my master’s thesis (VanderDrift, Agnew, & Wilson, 2009). In this work, I considered what process occurs that moves individuals from experiencing flagging commitment to actually leaving their relationships. I developed a construct called dissolution consideration to encapsulate the increased salience of dissolution that people experience just prior to leaving their relationship. Subsequently, I have examined myriad processes associated with dissolution, including:

-the process by which need fulfillment is associated with stay-leave behavior, finding that personal needs promote commitment, whereas relational needs are directly associated with stay-leave behavior (VanderDrift & Agnew, 2012).

-whether valuing the friendship component of a romance more than other aspects is associated with relationship persistence. It is. (VanderDrift, Wilson, & Agnew, 2013; VanderDrift, Lehmiller, & Kelly, 2012)

-how active goal pursuits derail the maintenance necessary for persistence by refocusing attention and biasing relational information processing (VanderDrift & Agnew, 2014)

I am also interested in how interdependent social processes impact health and health behavior. During graduate school, I examined the dyadic elements of condom use decisions (VanderDrift, Agnew, Harvey, & Warren, 2013). Having found the dyadic piece of this work to be particularly informative, I began work at Syracuse examining processes within couples where at least one member is HIV+.

Courses Taught

PSY 474: Forensic Psychology

(Current Offering)

PSY 775: Close Relationships

(Current Offering)

PSY 400: Social Dilemmas

(Current Offering)

PSY 274: Social Psychology

(Last taught: Spring 2017)

PSY 410: Close Relationships

(Last taught: Spring 2017)

PSY 679: Methods in Social Psychology Research

(Last taught: Fall 2017)