Macquarie University
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Implicit partner attitudes and attention to attractive alternatives

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posted on 2022-08-04, 05:52 authored by Kim Borovik

The temptation of attractive alternative partners is a notorious threat to relationships. Individuals in committed relationships therefore employ cognitive strategies to resist the lure of attractive alternatives. The primary aim of this dissertation was to investigate whether implicit attitudes towards romantic partners were associated with automatic attentional biases regarding attractive relationship alternatives. The secondary aim was to replicate existing findings on attentional biases using a new set of photo stimuli. The study was completed online (N = 374) and assessed: (1) participants’ implicit partner attitude; (2) participants’ explicit partner attitude; (3) participants’ relationship commitment, relationship satisfaction, sociosexual orientation and self-control; and (4) participants’ tendency to automatically disengage attention from photos of attractive opposite-sex faces. Results indicated that individuals with more positive explicit partner attitudes were faster to disengage attention from attractive alternatives. However, contrary to expectation, individuals with more positive implicit partner attitudes were slower to disengage attention from attractive alternatives. Implicit partner attitudes were not associated with an individual’s explicit partner attitude. As expected, higher levels of commitment and satisfaction were associated with reduced self-reported attention to romantic alternatives. However, commitment, satisfaction, and sociosexual orientation were unrelated to attentional disengagement. Surprisingly, results indicated that self-control was positively related to attentional adhesion for singles, but no such relationship was found for those in a relationship. The fact that both implicit and explicit partner attitudes were related to attentional disengagement, albeit in different directions, is suggestive of the important role of partner attitudes in attentional biases to attractive alternatives.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Method -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A - Stimuli for partner implicit association test -- Appendix B - Stimuli for dot-probe task -- Appendix C - Semantic priming task -- Appendix D - Self-report measures


Empirical thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Research (Human Sciences) Includes bibliographical references (pages 80-97)

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis MRes, Macquarie University, Department of Psychology, 2019

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Julie Fitness

Additional Supervisor 1

Simon Boag


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Kim Borovik 2019.




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