Stability and importance of partner flaws' influence on romantic affect and commitment
This study aimed to understand how stability and importance of deterrents to romantic affect impact romantic affect intensity. In particular, the current study investigated how the perceived importance and stability of a romantic partner's negative trait altered romantic affect towards that partner. Only individuals who were currently in a romantic relationship of at least 3 months qualified for this study. Participants completed a survey about negative traits their partner possesses, and were asked to select three traits their partner has: the most important negative trait, a moderately important negative trait, and a low importance trait. Based on random assignment, they were instructed to elaborate upon either the most important trait or upon the moderately important one, by describing an instance where their partner expressed that trait (flaw importance manipulation). Afterwards, they received feedback on the elaborated trait, stating that previous research had found the trait to be stable, unstable, or that they would receive more information at a later time (flaw stability manipulation). Finally, they completed a second survey, which assessed their romantic affect towards their partner and included the manipulation checks. Given that both manipulations failed, and that our manipulation checks and the planned analyses did not reveal significant effects, internal analyses were conducted. Specifically, multiple regressions were run using the manipulation checks as predictors. The interaction between stability and importance was significant for both commitment and relationship evaluations. For stable traits (1 SD above the mean of stability), as importance of that negative trait increased, relationship evaluations became less positive but commitment to the relationship increased. Implications of these findings for romantic relationships are discussed.