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Social threat, social reward, and regulation of investment in romantic relationships

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Regulation of romantic investment is often examined in terms of concerns over self‐protection. Perceived opportunity for intimate connection has been an overlooked motivational force in investment decisions. In 4 studies, participants assessed risks of rejection and opportunity for connection from future partners (among single participants), current partners (among coupled participants), and ex‐partners (all participants). Beyond rejection risks, intimacy potential of future/current partners negatively predicted pining for an ex‐partner, whereas intimacy potential of ex‐partners positively predicted such longing. Rewarding ex‐partners garnered particularly strong investment when future/current partners were lacking in intimacy potential, suggesting the need to belong motivates pursuit of intimacy in a hydraulic fashion: When connection is lacking in one relationship, the draw of intimacy from another becomes particularly strong.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2012


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