The beloved likely attracts attention. We tested whether the beloved captures early automatic attention, as indicated by an early posterior negativity (EPN) in a typical rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task, while replicating previous findings that the beloved receives sustained motivated attention, as indicated by an enhanced late positive potential (LPP) in a standard passive viewing task. Participants viewed beloved, friend, and stranger pictures in RSVP and standard passive viewing tasks. Participants felt most pleasant and aroused while viewing beloved pictures. In the RSVP task, there was a left lateral parietal EPN for the beloved (vs. friend and stranger) between 225 and 300 ms. In the standard passive viewing task, the midline centroparietal LPP between 400 and 1000 ms was larger in response to the beloved than friend and stranger. So, the beloved captures early automatic attention as well as sustained motivated attention, likely because they are evolutionarily significant.

Romantic love, Event-related potentials (ERP), Early posterior negativity (EPN), Late positive, potential (LPP), Attention,
Biological Psychology
Department of Psychology

Langeslag, S.J.E., & van Strien, J.W. (2019). Romantic love and attention: early and late event-related potentials. Biological Psychology, 146. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.107737