Intrasexual Vigilance: The Implicit Cognition of Romantic Rivalry

Jon K. Maner*, Saul L. Miller, D. Aaron Rouby, Matthew T. Gailliot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Four experiments tested the hypothesis that concerns about infidelity would lead people, particularly those displaying high chronic levels of romantic jealousy, to display a functionally coordinated set of implicit cognitive biases aimed at vigilantly processing attractive romantic rivals. Priming concerns about infidelity led people with high levels of chronic jealousy (but not those low in chronic jealousy) to attend vigilantly to physically attractive same-sex targets at an early stage of visual processing (Study 1), to strongly encode and remember attractive same-sex targets (Study 2), and to form implicit negative evaluations of attractive same-sex targets (Studies 3 and 4). In each case, effects were observed only for same-sex targets who were physically attractive-individuals who can pose especially potent threats to a person's own romantic interests. These studies reveal a cascade of implicit, lower order cognitive processes underlying romantic rivalry and identify the individuals most likely to display those processes. At a broader conceptual level, this research illustrates the utility of integrating social cognitive and evolutionary approaches to psychological science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-87
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • attention
  • emotion
  • evaluation
  • memory
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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