Q&A: Haverford College's Benjamin Le

Haverford College’s Benjamin Le, our Best Relationship Guru, on commitment, Facebook and why Dr. Phil makes him crazy.

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Photo by Jared Castaldi.MLT: So you’re a social psychologist. What exactly does that mean?
BL: Social psychologists study the impact social environment has on people’s attitudes,
behaviors, feelings, etc. We’re interested in the causes and effects of social interactions.

MLT: You’re a commitment expert. How did you get into studying that?
BL: I applied to graduate school in the pre-Internet age, and I didn’t actually know who all the faculty were at the university I was applying to because the informational materials about the department were out of date. When I got to grad school, there was this new, young faculty member studying close relationships and another student who was a year ahead of me working in his lab. They were doing cool research on commitment and break-up in relationships, and I fell in with them. We’ve been collaborators for more than 15 years now.

MLT: How do you measure commitment in a relationship?
BL: There are three factors that go into commitment. The first is satisfaction. Are you happy in the relationship? Second, what are your alternatives? Are there other people you could be in a relationship with who would be even more satisfying? Finally, how much of an investment do you have in a relationship? What would you lose if you broke up—tangible things like your house, bank account, access to kids, and also intangibles like emotions, time, future plans.

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