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

Stephanie S. Spielmann*, Geoff MacDonald, Jennifer L. Tackett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-622
Number of pages22
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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