Cognitive control in romantic love: the roles of infatuation and attachment in interference and adaptive cognitive control

Besides physiological, behavioural, and affective effects, romantic love also has cognitive effects. In this study, we tested (1) whether individual differences in infatuation and/or attachment level predict impaired interference control even in the absence of a love booster procedure, and (2) whether individual differences in attachment level predict reduced adaptive cognitive control as measured by conflict adaptation and post-error slowing. Eighty-three young adults who had recently fallen in love completed a Stroop-like task, which yielded reliable indices of interference control (i.e. the interference effect) and adaptive cognitive control (i.e. conflict adaptation and post-error slowing). We did not observe the predicted negative association between infatuation or attachment level and interference control. It might be that reduced interference control with love only happens when people are actively thinking about their beloved. In addition, we observed only weak evidence for the prediction that attachment level is associated with reduced conflict adaption. The results did show, however, that attachment level is associated with less post-error slowing, which is in line with the notion that attachment to a romantic partner buffers against aversive events. Our findings suggest that attachment is associated with reduced adaptive cognitive control, which could have implications in everyday life.