A daily diary study of married couples tested the hypothesis that automatic partner attitudes regulate self-protection for low, but not high, self-esteem people. For 14 days both partners reported trust in the other’s caring and perceived and actual rejecting and selfish behavior. On days after low self-esteem people reported less trust in their partner’s caring, those with more positive automatic partner attitudes perceived their partner to be less rejecting and selfish. They also engaged in less rejecting and selfish behavior toward their partner and their partner engaged in less selfish and rejecting behavior toward them. The current findings present the first evidence that automatic partner attitudes may help low self-esteem people inhibit the rejection sensitivity and distancing behaviors that too often undermine their relationships.
- close relationships
- automatic attitudes