Reduced self-expansion in current romance and interest in relationship alternatives

Laura E. VanderDrift, Gary W. Lewandowski, Christopher R. Agnew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Two studies examined the process by which romantic relationship partners who report lower self-expansion in their relationship come to show greater interest in their alternatives. We tested predictions based on the alternatives literature in which lacking relationship-derived self-expansion would lead to failures of motivational bias (i.e., devaluing attractive alternatives) and perceptual bias (i.e., failing to notice attractive alternatives) to influence perceptions of alternatives. We conducted two cross-sectional studies, one designed to test failure of the motivational bias and one the perceptual bias. Results supported the predictions, indicating that both biases fail to operate in individuals whose current romantic relationship provides insufficient self-expansion. We discuss implications for relationship outcomes, as well as for the theoretical understanding of alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)356-373
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • alternatives
  • motivational bias
  • perceptual bias
  • self-expansion
  • susceptibility to infidelity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Reduced self-expansion in current romance and interest in relationship alternatives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this