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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



threat, romantic relationship, cognitive processing, memory


This investigation examined the hypothesis that the presence of relationship threat leads to decreased working memory capacity, and also changes partner perceptions based on adult attachment style. To test this hypothesis, participants were exposed to a threat or no-threat manipulation and then completed measures examining partner perceptions and individual differences. Results suggest that the threat manipulation might have been strong enough for only highly anxious people. These individuals showed higher levels of working memory capacity following a relationship threat, compared to more securely attached persons, and later described their partners in more global, less desirable terms, regardless of threat condition. Highly avoidant individuals also described romantic partners in less desirable terms compared to more securely attached persons, regardless of threat condition. Individual difference measures suggest that rejection sensitivity and neuroticism may contribute to how romantic partners are perceived. Implications for future research on relationship threat and partner perceptions are discussed.


First Advisor

Linda M Isbell

Second Advisor

Paula Pietromonaco