Fostering Partner Dependence as Trust Insurance: The Implicit Contingencies of the Exchange Script in Close Relationships




Murray, S.L.
Aloni, M.
Holmes, J.G.
Derrick, J.L.
Stinson, D.A.
Leder, S.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


A model of the trust-insurance system is proposed to examine how low and high self-esteem people cope with the interdependence dilemma posed by feeling inferior to a romantic partner. Feeling inferior automatically activates “if-then” contingencies that link inferiority to the exchange script (i.e., partner qualities are evenly traded) and exchange script anxieties to reparative efforts to secure a partner's dependence. A daily diary study of newlyweds and five experiments supported the model. Induced upward social comparisons to the partner activated exchange anxieties for low, but not high, self-esteem people. When implicitly primed, the exchange script heightened worries about being inferior and motivated behavioral efforts to increase the partner's dependence regardless of selfesteem. When consciously deliberated, the exchange script only elicited dependence-promotion for low self-esteem people.




Murray, S.L., Aloni, M., Holmes, J.G., Derrick, J.L., Stinson, D.A., Leder, S. (2009). Fostering partner dependence as trust insurance: The implicit contingencies of the exchange script in close relationships. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 96(2), 324-348.