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Eyeballing the Forbidden Fruit

Ordering your significant other to ignore the attractive person at the next table might backfire, according to a new study. Nathan DeWall and Timothy Deckman conducted a series of experiments with students at Florida State University who identified themselves as being in a romantic relationship: “Students were simultaneously presented with photos of attractive and average-looking individuals of the opposite sex on a computer screen.?Some of the students tested were implicitly directed to focus their attention away from the more attractive individuals toward those that were more average-looking through a reaction-time task. Other students were not prompted at all.” The students who were told to focus away from the attractive individuals reported “being less satisfied and committed to their current relationship partner.?These same participants were more accepting of infidelity in their relationship, more likely to remember the attractive faces from the task and more apt to pay attention to new attractive faces.” As DeWall puts it: “Deciding for yourself to avoid attractive relationship alternatives can enhance relationship well-being. Our investigation, however, demonstrates that implicitly preventing people from attending to desirable relationship alternatives may undermine, rather than bolster, the strength of that person’s romantic relationship.” [%comments]