Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2013, Vol.105(6), pp.961-977
Although separate literatures have emerged on effects of social threats (i.e., rejection and negative evaluation) and rewards (i.e., connection and intimacy) on the process of commitment to a romantic relationship, no research has examined the influence of both simultaneously. Using an attachment framework, we examined the relation of social threats and rewards to investment model constructs (i.e., commitment, satisfaction, investment, quality of alternatives) in 3 studies. Study 1 ( N = 533) and Study 2 ( N = 866) assessed attachment styles, reward and threat perceptions, and investment model constructs, and data were analyzed using structural equation models. In Study 3 ( N = 358), reward and threat perceptions were experimentally manipulated followed by measurement of investment model constructs. Results showed that attachment avoidance was uniquely associated with lower perceptions of reward, whereas attachment anxiety was uniquely associated with stronger perceptions of threat. Stronger reward perceptions were associated with higher commitment, investment, and satisfaction, as well as lower quality of alternatives in all studies. Stronger threat perceptions were associated with lower satisfaction in all 3 studies. Stronger threat perceptions were also correlated with higher levels of investment and commitment, although these effects did not replicate in our experimental study. Thus, perceptions of reward appear unambiguously associated with higher levels of all facets of commitment, whereas perceptions of threat are most strongly associated with lower satisfaction. These results underscore the importance of considering the effects of rewards and threats simultaneously in commitment processes.
Adult Attachment ; Investment Model Of Commitment ; Romantic Relationships ; Social Reward ; Social Threat
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