Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 503–511 | Cite as

Relational Motives Reduce Attentional Adhesion to Attractive Alternatives in Heterosexual University Students in China

  • Qiuli Zhang
  • Jon K. Maner
  • Yin Xu
  • Yong ZhengEmail author
Original Paper


In heterosexual individuals, attention is automatically captured by physically attractive members of the opposite sex. Although helpful for selecting new mates, attention to attractive relationship alternatives can threaten satisfaction with and commitment to an existing romantic relationship. The current study tested the hypothesis that although a mating prime would increase selective attention to attractive opposite-sex targets (relative to less attractive targets) among single participants, this effect would be reduced among people already committed to a long-term romantic partner. Consistent with hypotheses, whereas single participants responded to a mating prime with greater attentional adhesion to physically attractive opposite-sex targets (relative to less attractive targets), participants in a committed romantic relationship showed no such effect. These findings extend previous research suggesting the presence of relationship maintenance mechanisms that operate at early stages of social cognition.


Attention Romantic relationships Relationship maintenance Mating Physical attractiveness 



This research was supported by the MOE Project of Key Research Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Universities (15JJDZONGHE022), China.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qiuli Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jon K. Maner
    • 3
  • Yin Xu
    • 2
  • Yong Zheng
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for Studies of Education and Psychology of Ethnic Minorities in Southwest ChinaSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Faculty of PsychologySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  3. 3.Kellogg School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality (MOE)Southwest UniversityChongqingChina
  5. 5.School of PsychologySouthwest UniversityBeibeiChina

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