The sting of lack of affection: Chronic goal dissatisfaction in transference

Michele S. Berk, Susan M. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The social-cognitive transference process evokes relevant affect and motivation. When a significant-other representation is activated, this indirectly activates motives and emotions experienced with that significant other (e.g., Andersen, Reznik, & Manzella, 1996). We predicted that this activated motivation in transference, if chronically dissatisfied in the significant-other relationship, would provoke diminished approach motivation, increased hostility and, paradoxically, heightened affection-seeking behavior as hostility increases. Participants whose affection goals with a significant other were chronically dissatisfied (or satisfied) learned about a new person who resembled this significant other (or did not). As predicted, participants in this resemblance condition whose affection goals were dissatisfied reported dampened approach motivation, increased hostility, and an association between this hostility and behavioral persistence on a task designed to solicit liking from a new person.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-412
Number of pages20
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008


  • Behavior
  • Hostile affect
  • Motivation
  • Relationships
  • Significant others
  • Transference
  • Unsatisfied goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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