Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Howard J. Markman, Ph.D.


Alternative monitoring, Potential alternative partners, Relationship longevity


This dissertation examines cognitive and behavioral factors involved in the management of potential alternative partners. Two studies are described here, each in a separate paper. The first study investigates perceptions of potential alternative partners as presented in an experimental paradigm (Study 1) and the second study examines links between alternative monitoring and relationship outcomes, measured longitudinally in survey research (Study 2). In the first study, Perceptual Downgrading and Relationship Commitment, I use a well-established paradigm to test a novel series of questions: Do individuals in committed relationships perceive attractive others as less attractive than single people do? This phenomenon is referred to as perceptual downgrading. I investigate if perceptual downgrading varies based on whether the alternative is presented as a threat to the current relationship, and if this phenomenon amplified for those who are happier in their relationship and/or more committed to their relationship. In the second study, Alternative Monitoring, Infidelity, and Break-Up, I evaluate whether and how alternative monitoring is linked with important relationship outcomes. There is strong theoretical rationale to expect that alternative monitoring would be associated with increased risk for both infidelity and relationship dissolution. However, the associations between alternative monitoring and these relationship outcomes remain unclear in the literature. Together, these two papers consider how alternative monitoring is associated with behavioral and cognitive processes underlying relationship maintenance and commitment. Future directions for research are identified, which focus on addressing limitations of these studies and expanding the knowledge base of alternative monitoring and other romantic relationship processes related to commitment. Clinical implications are also discussed, including considerations for couples with challenging circumstances related to alternative monitoring (e.g., instances of infidelity).

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Lane Laurel Ritchie


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

85 p.