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Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 774–793 | Cite as

Interpersonal regulation of relationship partners’ security: A causal chain analysis

  • Edward P. LemayJr.
  • Joshua Everett Ryan
Original Paper
  • 128 Downloads

Abstract

Security in relationship partners’ positive regard promotes high-quality close relationships, and insecurity in partners’ regard undermines relationship quality. Hence, people may be motivated to dispel their close partners’ insecurity. The current research used an experimental-causal-chain design to test a novel model of the interpersonal regulation of relationship partners’ security. Manipulated perceptions of relationship partners’ insecurity increased the activation of security regulation goals (i.e., goals to improve partners’ security and dispel their insecurity) and selective attention to threat-relevant information (Study 1). In turn, manipulated security regulation goals increased the expression of positive regard for relationship partners, particularly in negatively evaluated and important domains (Study 2). In turn, manipulated expression of positive regard increased partners’ relationship security and satisfaction, particularly when partners had chronic doubts about the extent to which they were valued (Study 3). These studies provide compelling causal evidence for a relationship-protective response to detection of partner insecurity; people try to dispel the relationship threat posed by an insecure partner by adopting security regulation goals, which motivate expressions of positive regard that increase partner security.

Keywords

Interpersonal relationships Social acceptance Trust Regulation Motivation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Funding was provided by National Science Foundation, Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (Grant Number 1145349).

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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