Over 400,000 people visited Farnam Street last month to learn how to make better decisions, create new ideas, and avoid stupid errors. With more than 100,000 subscribers to our popular weekly digest, we've become an online intellectual hub. To learn more about what we do, start here.

Should you avoid thinking about forbidden fruit?

No. Diverting attention away from forbidden fruit undermines, rather than bolsters, the strength of that person's romantic relationship. While thinking about forbidden fruit can harm your relationship trying not to think about it can, rather iconically, increase the temptation of alternatives and undermine your realtionship. 

Being inattentive to attractive relationship alternatives can enhance relationship well-being. The current investigation, however, demonstrates that implicitly preventing people from attending to desirable relationship alternatives may undermine, rather than bolster, the strength of that person's romantic relationship. Consistent with the notion of “forbidden fruit,” we found that subtly limiting people's attention to attractive alternatives reduced relationship satisfaction and commitment and increased positive attitudes toward infidelity (Experiment 1), increased memory for attractive relationship alternatives (Experiment 2), and increased attention to attractive alternatives (Experiment 3). Findings suggest that although attention to attractive alternatives can harm one's relationship, situations that implicitly limit one's attention to alternatives can, rather ironically, increase the temptation of alternatives and undermine relationship well-being. 

Source: Forbidden fruit Inattention to attractive alternatives provokes implicit relationship reactance.

Related: How Self Control Works

Shop at Amazon.com and support Farnam Street

Filed Under: