Romantic relationship status biases the processing of an attractive alternative's behavior


  • Mariko L. Visserman, Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Johan C. Karremans, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


The present research examines whether romantically involved individuals process behavioral information of attractive alternatives in a biased manner. When presented with behavioral information of an attractive mate, in Study 1 involved (vs. uninvolved) participants tended to recall fewer positive behaviors of an attractive alternative. Study 2 demonstrated that involved participants recalled more negative behaviors, and also evaluated these behaviors more negatively, compared to uninvolved participants. Study 3 demonstrated that romantically involved participants recalled more negative (but also neutral) behaviors when it concerned behaviors displayed by an attractive alternative as compared to a same-sex other. These findings provide initial evidence for biased processing of behavioral information of an alternative mate, which may serve an important relationship protection function.