The changing tides of attractive alternatives in romantic relationships: Recent societal changes compel new directions for future research

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Levi R. Baker, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Societal changes over recent decades have drastically transformed the frequency and manner in which people are exposed to attractive alternative relationship partners, arguably resulting in such alternatives posing a greater threat to committed relationships now than ever before. Yet despite a growing need for novel research on attractive alternatives, research on this topic has failed to account for such changes and thus is growing stagnant. Specifically, although interdependence perspectives and supporting research have consistently and robustly demonstrated that (a) attractive alternatives threaten committed relationships and (b) committed partners protect their relationships by devaluing such alternatives, research has yet to examine how the changing nature of attractive alternatives might affect these processes. To this end, the present article first reviews foundational theory and research that guided the study of attractive alternatives and then highlights how recent societal changes (e.g., technology that increases access to attractive alternatives, increasingly diverse relationship types, the emerging desire to remain single) diverge from this research and thus warrant new directions. We encourage researchers to expand how they study attractive alternatives and to ultimately reignite research on this increasingly important topic.

Additional Information

Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 16, e12650.
Language: English
Date: 2021
relationships, committed relationships, attraction

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