We tested a priming paradigm for inducing fear of being single, and explored its causal role on longing for ex-partners and settling for less. In Studies 1 and 2, fear of being single was primed by focusing on positive/negative aspects of singlehood/relationships. In Study 3, the paradigm focused only on the positive/negative aspects of singlehood and included a no-task control. Across studies, focusing on negative aspects of singlehood produced greater fear of being single than focusing on positive aspects, an effect that appears to be driven by the negative focus. Mixed effects emerged when focusing on relationships. Supporting a causal effect, fear of being single prompted by the priming task predicted longing for ex-partners and willingness to settle for less.
Spielmann, S. S., & Cantarella, I. A. (2020). Fear of being single priming predicts maladaptive relationship pursuits. Personal Relationships, 27(4), 801–819. https://doi.org/10.1111/pere.12348