Jessica Maxwell

People are increasingly drawing their sense of self-worth from the quality of their long term romantic relationships and expect a passionate sex life as part of a fulfilling relationship. In my research, I examine how couples can best maximize their sexual well-being.

In particular, I assess how individual differences in expectations and perceptions influence sexual and relationship well-being, examining factors such as how individuals expect they can best maintain sexual satisfaction, what they expect from casual sex encounters, and how accurate they are in detecting their partners’ feelings and sexual preferences. To tackle these research questions, I use a variety of methods, including longitudinal, dyadic, experience sampling, experimental, speed-dating, eye-tracking, and implicit assessments.

In my recent research, I apply dual-process models of social cognition to investigate the association between sexual and relationship functioning, examining how sexual experiences may shape explicit relationship satisfaction as well as implicit (automatic, gut-level) satisfaction.

I also investigate the insecurities individuals hold that may jeopardize their relationship success. For example, exploring how those with anxious and avoidant attachment experience casual sex encounters, and how those high in a fear of being single fare at speed-dating.

My work has also earned me recognition including the 2015 Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), the 2017 Graduate Student Paper Award from the Relationship Researchers Interest Group (RRIG) , the 2018 Dissertation Award from the International Association for Relationships Research (IARR), 2nd place in the 2017 University of Toronto’s Three Minute Thesis competition, and the 2017 Most Outstanding Social Psychology Graduate Student Award from the University of Toronto.


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Journal Articles

Sanscartier, S., Maxwell, J.A., & Lockwood, P. (2020). No effect of attachment avoidance on visual disengagement from a romantic partner’s face. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 0265407520919991.

Maxwell, J.A., & Meltzer, A.L. (2020). Kiss and Makeup? Examining the Co-occurrence of Sex and Conflict. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Advance online publication.

Schrage, K.M., Maxwell, J.A., Impett, E.A., Keltner, D., & MacDonald, G. (2020). Effects of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication of Affection on Avoidantly Attached Partners’ Emotions and Message Receptiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Advance online publication.

Rossi, M.A., Maxwell, J.A., & Rosen, N.O. (in press). Biased partner perceptions of women’s pain self-efficacy in postpartum pain during intercourse: A dyadic longitudinal examination. The Journal of Pain.

Spielmann, S.S., Maxwell, J.A., MacDonald, G., Peragine, D., &  Impett, E.A. (2020). The Predictive Effects of Fear of Being Single on Physical Attractiveness and Less Selective Partner Selection Strategies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.Download PDF

Nunez Segovia, A., Maxwell, J.A, DiLorenzo, M.G., & MacDonald, G. (2019). No strings attached? How attachment orientation is related to the varieties of casual sexual relationships. Personality and Individual Differences, 151, 109455.

McNulty, J.K., Maxwell, J.A., Meltzer, A.L., & Baumeister, R.F. (2019). Sex-differentiated Changes in Sexual Desire Predict Marital Dissatisfaction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48, 2473-2489.Download PDF

Maxwell, J.A. & McNulty, J.K. (2019). No Longer in a ‘Dry Spell’: The Developing Understanding of How Sex Influences Romantic Relationships. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28, 102-107.Download PDF

Muise, A., Maxwell, J.A., & Impett, E.A. (2018). What theories and methods from relationship research can contribute to sex research. Annual Review of Sex Research, 55, 540-562. Download PDF

Maxwell, J.A., Muise, A., MacDonald, G., Day, L.C., Rosen, N.O. & Impett, E.A. (2017) How Implicit Theories of Sexuality Shape Sexual and Relationship Well-Being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 112, 238-279.Download PDF

Maxwell, J.A., Spielmann, S.S., Joel, S., & MacDonald, G. (2013). Attachment theory as a framework for understanding responses to social exclusion. Social and Personality Psychology Compass7, 444-456.Download PDF

Spielmann, S.S., MacDonald, G., Maxwell, J.A., Joel, S., Peragine, D., Muise, A., & Impett, E.A. (2013). Settling for less out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology105, 1049-1073.Download PDF

Spielmann, S.S., Maxwell, J.A., MacDonald, G., & Baratta, P.L. (2013). Don’t get your hopes up: Avoidantly attached individuals perceive lower social reward when there is potential for intimacy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin39, 91-107.Download PDF

Other Publications

Baumeister, R.F., Maxwell, J.A., Thomas, G.P., & Vohs, K.D. (2019). The mask of love and sexual gullibility. In J. Forgas & R. Baumeister (Eds.), The social psychology of gullibility (pp. 21- 41). New York: Routledge Psychology Press.

Maxwell, J.A. (in press). Expectations and beliefs regarding sex in relationships. Entry in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality and Gender.

Maxwell, J.A., Muise, A., MacDonald, G., & Impett, E.A. (2019). Implicit Theories of Sexuality Scale. In Milhausen, R., Sakaluk, J. K., Fisher, T., Davis, C.M. & Yarber, W. (Eds). The Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures (4th ed.).