Crimes of passion: When romantic obsession leads to abusive relationships

Jocelyn J. Bélanger, Katherine E. Collier, Claudia F. Nisa, Birga M. Schumpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This research examines the relationship between passion for a romantic partner and obsessive relational intrusion (ORI) which is defined as repeated and unwanted behaviors toward a partner that invade his/her personal privacy and cause fear for his/her safety. Method: Based on the dualistic model of passion, we predicted that obsessive passion (OP) would be associated with fear of abandonment, which in turn would be associated with ORI. In contrast, harmonious passion (HP) should not be associated with ORI. Results: Four studies (N = 1257) supported these predictions. Study 1 found cross-sectional support for these hypotheses from the victim's perspective. Study 2 replicated Study 1 and extended it to the perpetrator's perspective by demonstrating that the relationship between passion and ORI is mediated by fear of abandonment. Study 3 replicated these findings using an experimental manipulation of passion. Study 4 found similar results by experimentally manipulating fear of abandonment, the mediator, to demonstrate its causal influence on ORI. Conclusions: Taken together, the present results demonstrate that passion and fear of abandonment play an important role in the type of behavior people are willing to pursue to maintain their romantic relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1159-1175
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • abuse
  • fear of abandonment
  • obsessive relational intrusion
  • passion
  • stalking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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