When self-protection overreaches: Relationship-specific threat activates domain-general avoidance motivation


Journal Article

Murray, Holmes, and Collins' [Murray, Holmes, and Collins (2006) Optimizing assurance: The risk regulation system in relationships. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 641-666] interpersonal risk regulation model posits that people cope with threats to their romantic relationships by prioritizing self-protection goals over connectedness goals. The current paper tests whether these relationship-specific responses to threat are reflective of broader shifts in motivation. In Study 1, participants were quicker to identify avoidance-related words than approach-related words following a relationship-specific threat. In Study 2, threatened participants performed better than control participants on an anagram task under an avoidance frame, but not under an approach frame. These results suggest that relationship threat nonconsciously heightens global avoidance motivation and that the interpersonal risk regulation model may originate from a more fundamental approach-avoidance system. Crown Copyright © 2009.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Cavallo, JV; Fitzsimons, GM; Holmes, JG

Published Date

  • January 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 46 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 8

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0465

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1031

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jesp.2009.07.007

Citation Source

  • Scopus