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J Exp Soc Psychol. 2009 Nov 1;45(6):1180-1191.

Becoming Irreplaceable: How Comparisons to the Partner's Alternatives Differentially Affect Low and High Self-Esteem People.

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University at Buffalo, State University of New York.


It is proposed that people are motivated to feel hard to replace in romantic relationships because feeling irreplaceable fosters trust in a partner's continued responsiveness. By contrast, feeling replaceable motivates compensatory behavior aimed at strengthening the partner's commitment to the relationship. A correlational study of dating couples and 2 experiments examined how satiating/thwarting the goal of feeling irreplaceable differentially affects relationship perception and behavior for low and high self-esteem people. The results revealed that satiating the goal of feeling irreplaceable increases trust for people low in self-esteem. In contrast, thwarting the goal of feeling irreplaceable increases compensatory behaviors meant to prove one's indispensability for people high in self-esteem.

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