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Pursuing Safety in Social Connection: A Flexibly Fluid Perspective on Risk Regulation in Relationships

Authors
  • Murray, Sandra L.
  • Pascuzzi, Gabriela S.
Type
Published Article
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
Jan 18, 2024
Volume
75
Pages
379–404
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-psych-011123-024815
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

People are fundamentally motivated to be included in social connections that feel safe, connections where they are consistently cared for and protected, not hurt or exploited. Romantic relationships have long played a crucial role in satisfying this fundamental need. This article reconceptualizes the risk-regulation model to argue that people draw on experiences from inside and outside their romantic relationships to satisfy their fundamental need to feel safe depending on others. We first review the direct relational cues (i.e., a partner's affectionate touch, responsive versus unresponsive behavior, and relative power) and indirect cues (i.e., bodily sensations, collective value in the eyes of others, and living conditions) that signal the current safety of social connection and motivate people to connect to others or protect themselves against them. We then review how people's chronic capacity to trust in others controls their sensitivity and reactivity to the safety cues. The article concludes with future research directions.

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