Relationship maintenance and biases on the line bisection task: Attractive alternatives, asymmetrical cortical activity, and approach-avoidance motivation

Saul L. Miller*, Marjorie L. Prokosch, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

People in long-term romantic relationships possess relationship maintenance mechanisms designed to protect against the temptation of desirable relationship alternatives. The current research examined the link between relationship maintenance mechanisms and an index of neurologically based approach/avoidance motivation. Participants completed a line bisection task that yields measures of asymmetric activity in the right and left frontal cortices; such activity is thought to reflect people's level of approach/avoidance motivation. Compared to single participants, participants in committed relationships displayed relatively less left visual field bias on the line bisection task (indicative of greater left frontal cortical activation and greater cognitive avoidance motivation) in response to available, attractive opposite-sex targets. Decreased left visual field bias was particularly pronounced among individuals with moderate levels of relationship commitment - those expected to display the highest levels of relationship maintenance. These findings provide insight into perceptual, motivational, and neurological processes that may help people avoid tempting relationship alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-569
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012

Keywords

  • Avoidance motivation
  • Cerebral hemisphericity
  • Line bisection
  • Relationship maintenance
  • Romantic relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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