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Abstract

All major theories of relationship commitment specify that the availability of attractive alternatives should be a negative factor undermining relationship commitment and relationship survival. However, most empirical evidence is correlational. In recent years, experimental research has examined how commitment influences attention, perception, and judgment of attractive alternatives in ways that help maintain relationship stability. Moreover, research on self-control of other goal-directed behavior is spawning theory about how impulses and self-control interact to predict the regulation of goal pursuit in the face of temptations. Finally, very recent work has experimentally manipulated the availability of alternatives to test its influence on commitment-related behaviors such as the willingness to tolerate a partner’s transgressions. Recent findings reveal that commitment is necessary but not sufficient when faced with especially strong and sometimes implicit relationship threats.