Who Recognizes and Chooses Behaviors That Are Best for a Relationship? The Separate Roles of Knowledge, Attachment, and Motivation

Publication Date

January 2010


The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin is published by Sage, http://pspb.sagepub.com.


Participants made relationship decisions in several Choose Your Own Adventure–type dating story tasks by choosing between two options at each of 20 points throughout the computerized stories. One option was always the relationship-enhancing option; the other option was detrimental to the relationship. Study 1 included two experimental conditions: Participants were either asked to identify the relationship-enhancing option or to report which option they would actually choose. Individuals high in relationship knowledge were more likely to identify relationship-enhancing behaviors but not more likely to actually choose them. Secure individuals and individuals strongly motivated to have supportive relationships were more likely to identify and to choose relationship-enhancing options. In Study 2 partner supportiveness was manipulated; the fictitious partner was either supportive or nonsupportive. Individuals high in relationship knowledge were better at recognizing when a partner was supportive and when not, whereas attachment anxiety lessened the appreciation of having a supportive partner.


Psychology | Social Psychology