2017 Feb;46(2):503-511. doi: 10.1007/s10508-016-0759-6

Zhang Q1,2, Maner JK3, Xu Y2, Zheng Y4,5


In heterosexual individuals, attention is automatically captured by physically attractive members of the opposite sex. Although helpful for selecting new mates, attention to attractive relationship alternatives can threaten satisfaction with and commitment to an existing romantic relationship. The current study tested the hypothesis that although a mating prime would increase selective attention to attractive opposite-sex targets (relative to less attractive targets) among single participants, this effect would be reduced among people already committed to a long-term romantic partner. Consistent with hypotheses, whereas single participants responded to a mating prime with greater attentional adhesion to physically attractive opposite-sex targets (relative to less attractive targets), participants in a committed romantic relationship showed no such effect. These findings extend previous research suggesting the presence of relationship maintenance mechanisms that operate at early stages of social cognition.