IARR Mini-Conference - Call for Papers

The International Association for Relationship Research Mini-Conference October 4 - 6, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky

Multi-level Motivations in Close Relationship Dynamics

Call for Papers

On behalf of the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR), we offer an invitation to submit a proposal for presentation at the 2013 mini-conference to be held in Louisville, KY. The conference will provide an opportunity to present and learn about cutting-edge research in the field of personal relationships. Scholars from different countries representing a broad range of disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, communication, family studies, social work, gerontology) will gather at the conference to share their work in various formats (e.g., symposia, papers, posters, round table discussions).

IARR conferences provide rich opportunities for professional growth, education, and conversations with colleagues who have similar professional interests. Please consider joining colleagues for three days of networking in beautiful Louisville.

Multi-Level Motivations Theme: The mini-conference will focus on relationship dynamics that are influenced by diverse, sometimes contradictory motives. The Multi-Level Motivation perspective is defined as the analyses of behavior as a simultaneous product of both biologically-based and socioculturally-based needs. This perspective is consistent with investigators such as Richerson and Boyd (2005; Not by Genes Alone) and Barish (2012; Homo Mysterious), who recognized that human nature is based on a dual inheritance, stemming from both genetic and cultural evolution.

Sometimes, motives from the two levels work in concert and sometimes they are in conflict. Darwin suggested that the essential motives for all species are survival and reproduction. Yet, as Bowlby noted, infant survival requires a nurturant caretaker who provides resources and care. As a result, the biological process of attachment, and the social institution of marriage and the family, operate at different motivational levels to encourage reciprocal affection between infant and caregiver.

With respect to reproduction, sexual desire is often experienced as the need for physical attractiveness and social status in a partner. Those desired qualities embody both biological and social motives. Physical attractiveness is simultaneously based on personal biological fitness qualities, such as youthfulness and sexual maturity, and socio-cultural qualities, such as friendliness and gender-appropriate grooming. Similarly, the attainment of social status requires biological strength and intelligence, and social assets, such education, money, and the capacity to persuade and lead. Thus, desirable biological and social partner qualities may enhance the survival and well-bring of the future offspring.

Such partner qualities also contribute to the gratification of the perceiver, but the perceiver sometimes has to balance or make trade-offs among motives from different levels. For example, perceivers must weigh the relative desirability of some biologically-based partner qualities, such as boldness and sexual charisma, which are more important in the short-term, against some social qualities, such as attitudinal and personality compatibility, which are more important in the long-term. Similarly, individuals are motivated both to have lots of sex and lots of offspring, and to selectively invest in a small number of children.

Tensions among needs arising within and between different motivational levels occur in such domains as health behavior, financial decision-making, interpersonal conflict, adoption and step-family dynamics, gender role issues, social support and a host of other areas. The complex interplay of unconscious biologically-based hormones and feelings with socially-based norms that are transmitted through modeling, language, education and religion are important to understand for theoretical, personal insight and public policy goals. Equally important to explicate are how such decisions are framed by the culture, expressed by the partner, and conceptualized by the decision-maker.

Relationship researchers are aware of both biological and social motives, yet the field remains largely divided between investigators who focus on evolutionary variables and explanations, and those who emphasize cultural and cognitive determinants of behavior. The Multi-Level Motivation perspective, by contrast, consistently seeks to explicate the simultaneous influence of both categories of motives in relationship behavior.

In this conference, we will offer keynote addresses and seek papers, posters and symposia from investigators striving to explicate the multiply motivated nature of relationship behaviors, including the enactment, self-perception and communication of those motives. Thus, this is a call for investigators who are willing to creatively address a multi-level motivational explanatory framework in explicating their relationship research for this venue.

Potential Topic Areas include: (a) attachment and social support, (b) attraction mate-selection and self-expansion; (b) sexual behavior, life history dynamics and pregnancy; (c) competition, conflict and interpersonal violence; (d) emotion regulation, terror management and health behavior; (e) methodological and measurement challenges involved in assessing multi-level motives and (f) other topics offered by creative and insightful IARR members. Thus, this theme is meant to be inclusive, and is intended to tie together many traditional topics in the field of personal relationships through the lens of multi-level motivation.

New Scholars Workshop: A workshop for New Scholars (graduate students, post-docs, instructors and assistant professors) will be offered on October 4. Jennifer Theiss will be coordinating and supplying additional details (Department of Communication, Rutgers University, 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Submissions: The Program Committee invites proposals for symposia, papers, posters, roundtables, and interest groups on topics relevant to research and practice in social and personal relationships. Detailed information about the conference (e.g., how to submit proposals, how to register for the conference) will be available on the IARR website ( Submissions should be sent electronically via the conference website beginning January 14, 2013. The deadline for submissions is March 18, 2013.

Program and Local Arrangements Committee: Michael Cunningham and Anita Barbee can answer your questions. Please feel free to contact them via email if you have questions/comments about the Call, the conference program, and conference arrangements ( Others on the Committee include: Sue Sprecher (Sociology, Illinois State U), Becky Antle (Marriage and Family Therapy- U of L), Jesse Owen, (Counseling Psychology- U of L) and more.

The International Association for Relationship Research Conference October 4 - 6, 2013, Louisville, Kentucky

Submission Formats

Submissions must be submitted between January 14 and March 18, 2013. Each submission will be blind-reviewed by relationship scholars from various disciplines and geographic regions. Reviewers will evaluate the submissions for quality and conference fit. For each category of submission, the author should indicate precisely how the proposal incorporates the Multi-Level Motivation theme. Some very good submissions that do not incorporate the theme may be accepted, if there is room. A description of the types of submissions and the procedure for submitting proposals is presented below. Because this is a mini-conference, priority will be given to papers, symposia and posters, but it may be possible to accommodate a small number of roundtables or interest group meetings.

Paper: An oral presentation (approximately 10-15 minutes) that summarizes an empirical investigation or theoretical analysis of a topic. Symposium: A collection of oral presentations (3 to 5) that focus on a single topic, problem, or theme, from an empirical and/or theoretical perspective. The symposium may also include a discussant that integrates and critiques the presentations. Poster: A visual presentation (on a 4? by 8? poster) which summarizes an empirical investigation or theoretical analysis of a topic. Roundtable: A one-hour discussion on a specific theme or issue. The roundtable is led by one or two speakers. The speaker(s) could begin with a 10-15 minute presentation that introduces the topic and/or provide(s) materials that help define the issues. Colleagues who attend the roundtable sessions will have opportunities to participate in the discussions. Interest Group Meeting: An opportunity for scholars with common interests and questions to engage in discussion. The group meetings provide opportunities for colleagues to share ideas, ask questions, and explore research initiatives for the purpose of building networks.

Submission Requirements

1. For panel papers and posters, please submit a 500 word abstract. For a symposium, submit a 300-word overview of the symposium summary and a 250-word abstract for each paper. When submitting a symposium, the convener should upload the abstracts for each author under the online symposium option. For roundtables and interest groups, please submit a 250-500 word summary of the proposed discussion topic (in lieu of the traditional abstract). The summary should identify the goals and potential benefits of the roundtable and interest group. For interest groups to be scheduled, at least three individuals must co-author the submission.

2. Submissions must be sent electronically by March 18, 2013 via the conference website (click here). The conference website will provide more detailed information on electronic submission guidelines and procedures.

3. Please periodically log onto the IARR website ( and the conference website for more information about submissions, conference registration, and local arrangements. If you know of others interested in relationship research, please forward this message to them, and also suggest they register for the IARR 2013 conference.

Download the call for papers as a PDF here.

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