Seeing love, or seeing lust: How people interpret ambiguous romantic situations (Study)

“Interpreting ambiguous situations is a task individuals face on a daily basis. In romantic contexts the accurate interpretation of these situations is of particular importance. In the present set of studies we investigated how level of construal guides individual perception in these cases.

When a high level of construal was induced participants likely interpreted a given interpersonal situation as the start or the continuation of a long lasting relationship.

When a low level of construal was induced the same situations were more likely interpreted as leading to a one-night stand (in a dating situation) or involving little chance of a common future for both actors (in a break-up situation).

In sum, the present studies demonstrate construal level to be a crucial determinant of the interpretation of ambiguous romantic situations. We discuss these findings in relation to the functional independence of love and sex, level of construal, and social perception.”

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume 47, Issue 5, September 2011, Pages 1017-1020

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