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Linking Relationship Quality to Perceived Mutuality of Relationship Goals and Perceived Goal Progress

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Two goal-related variables were examined as predictors of relationship quality. One was the perception of mutuality of goals held for the relationship; the other was the perception of progress regarding those relationship goals. a mediation model was considered whereby relationship goal mutuality predicted quality via perception of goal progress. Study 1 examined cross-sectional associations among these variables in 245 dating participants. results of a path analysis (con-trolling for effects of relationship conflict) were consistent with the mediation model. Study 2 replicated these findings in a sample of 78 committed romantic couples, using an electronic diary methodology to gather data from both partners about relationship quality across multiple time points. Study 2 also extended the findings by examining a dyadic mediation model with both mediated actor effects and mediated partner effects. Findings suggest a central role for shared relation-ship goals and for perceptions of relationship goal progress in the context of romantic relationships.
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Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2009, pp. 137-164
137
AVIVI ET AL.
RELATIONSHIP GOALS
LINKING RELATIONSHIP QUALITY TO
PERCEIVED MUTUALITY OF RELATIONSHIP
GOALS AND PERCEIVED GOAL PROGRESS
YAEL E. AVIVI
University of Miami
JEAN-PHILIPPE LAURENCEAU
University of Delaware
CHARLES S. CARVER
University of Miami
Two goal-related variables were examined as predictors of relationship quality.
One was the perception of mutuality of goals held for the relationship; the other
was the perception of progress regarding those relationship goals. A mediation
model was considered whereby relationship goal mutuality predicted quality
via perception of goal progress. Study 1 examined cross-sectional associations
among these variables in 245 dating participants. Results of a path analysis (con-
trolling for effects of relationship conict) were consistent with the mediation
model. Study 2 replicated these ndings in a sample of 78 committed romantic
couples, using an electronic diary methodology to gather data from both partners
about relationship quality across multiple time points. Study 2 also extended the
ndings by examining a dyadic mediation model with both mediated actor effects
and mediated partner effects. Findings suggest a central role for shared relation-
ship goals and for perceptions of relationship goal progress in the context of
romantic relationships.
The first and second authors were supported by Scientist Development Award
MH64779 to J-P Laurenceau from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors
would like to thank Blaine Fowers and Adam Troy for their comments and support of
this work.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jean-Philippe
Laurenceau, Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
19716-2577. E-mail: jlaurenceau@psych.udel.edu.
138 AVIVI ET AL.
It is common to conceptualize human behavior in terms of goals.
A goal is an internal representation of a desired outcome, event,
or process (Austin & Vancouver, 1996). Holding and attaining
meaningful life goals relates to psychological well-being (Carver
& Scheier, 1998; Deci, 1980; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Emmons & Diener,
1986; Emmons & King, 1988; Little, 1983; Palys & Little, 1983; Shel-
don & Houser-Marko, 2001; Srull & Wyer, 1986; Wessman & Ricks,
1966; Wright & Brehm, 1989). Many of the goals that guide human
behavior pertain to initiating and maintaining close relationships
(Reis, Collins, & Berscheid, 2000). Furthermore, some of the goals
in close relationships are shared with one’s partner. Although most
of the goal literature focuses on the personal goals of particular in-
dividuals, and how those goals relate to individual well-being, the
work reported here shifts that focus to shared goals in romantic re-
lationships.
GOALS IN CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS
The idea that goals are important in romantic relationships is not
new. For example, Burr (1976) argued that marital success hinges
on achieving communication and decision-making goals. Fowers
(2000) suggested that marital stability and quality depend upon the
partners’ sharing meaningful goals and making progress regarding
those shared goals. More recently, Gottman (1999) has highlight-
ed the importance of supporting one another’s personal goals, or
“honoring each other’s dreams.” Also fitting this picture, Fincham
and Beach (1999) conceptualized marital conflict as stemming from
having defensive individual goals (e.g., protecting self-esteem) that
undermine intentions to communicate and solve problems jointly.
Studies of how aspects of relationship goals relate to relation-
ship outcomes are also emerging. In one study, simply endorsing
intimacy goals in one’s relationship related to global relationship
evaluations (Sanderson & Cantor, 1997). Another, more complex
study examined effects of partner support for personal and rela-
tionship goals (Brunstein, Dangelmayer, & Schultheiss, 1996, Study
1). Among dating couples, receiving partner support for individual
and relationship goals predicted higher relationship satisfaction 4
weeks later. Furthermore, it appeared that reports of receiving sup-
port from one’s partner related to subsequent relationship satisfac-
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 139
tion because partner support was being translated into more goal
progress. Also, the effects were present even when controlling for
initial relationship mood. A follow-up cross-sectional study of a
married sample (Brunstein et al., 1996, Study 2) did not test a cor-
responding mediation model, but it found that men’s satisfaction
with their marriage depended heavily on receiving support for in-
dividual goals outside the relationship, whereas women’s marital
satisfaction related more strongly to support for relationship goals.
In related work, Kaplan and Maddux (2002) examined marital
support for personal goals and collective efficacy perceptions for
shared goals (i.e., a spouse’s belief that the couple is capable of ac-
complishing its shared goals). This cross-sectional study found that
a spouse’s sense of collective efficacy for shared goals related to
marital satisfaction, above and beyond the effect of spousal support
for personal goals.
In the personal goal literature, well-being has been related to sev-
eral qualities pertaining to goals. Examples include goal content
(Kasser & Ryan, 1996; Schmuck, Kasser, & Ryan, 2000), goal motiva-
tion (Sheldon & Houser-Marko, 2001), goal integration (Sheldon &
Emmons, 1995), goal commitment, goal attainability, and goal prog-
ress (Brunstein, 1993). A nascent literature on close relationships
is exploring similar characteristics of relationship goals, including
goal salience, goal support, goal enactment, and goal similarity
(Broemer, 2001; Brunstein et al., 1996; Cole & Teboul, 2004; Kaplan
& Maddux, 2002). In the work reported here we focus on two goal-
related characteristics: the perceived sharing of relationship goals
and perceived progress toward relationship goals.
SHARING OF RELATIONSHIP GOALS
Empirical evidence indicates that similarities between relationship
partners in values and interests (which often determine goals) relate
to relationship stability (e.g., Hill, Rubin, & Peplau, 1976). Marital
researchers have also viewed marital conflict as reflecting an under-
lying dissimilarity between partner goals (Fincham & Beach, 1999).
Mutuality of relationship goals may represent an important source
of similarity that relates to better relationship quality.
This possibility has in fact been raised by a number of people.
Sternberg, Hojjat, and Barnes (2001) argued that similarity between
140 AVIVI ET AL.
partners’ ideal visions of love helps relationships succeed. They
speculated that all persons possess idiosyncratic visions of “love-
as-a-story” that is game-based, religion-based, fantasy-based, etc.
They argue that people strive to act out these visions (as complex
relationship goals) and experience relationship distress or failure
when their visions are not compatible with those of their partner.
Using a different line of reasoning, Cole and Teboul (2004) noted
that partners’ pursuit of shared goals entails teamwork in the form
of joint activity, shared interests, and mutual knowledge.
Some evidence is consistent with the idea that goal mutuality
relates to better relational outcomes. Classic research shows that
between-group conflict decreases when groups develop common
goals that necessitate cooperation (Sherif, 1958). A similar link has
been demonstrated in marriage research. In one study (Buehlman,
Gottman, & Katz, 1992), use of “we-ness” in an interview correlated
strongly with both subjective and objective indicators of relation-
ship quality and lower incidence of divorce over time. In that case,
marital outcomes were predicted by use of language indicative of
a collective identity (which presumably implies mutual goals). The
idea that use of the word “we” reflects interpersonal closeness has
also received empirical support from other sources (e.g., Fitzsimons
& Kay, 2004).
PERCEPTIONS OF GOAL PROGRESS
Another contributor to well-being is the perception of progress to-
ward the attainment of goals. That is, people experience positive
feelings when their progress toward goals exceeds expectations,
and negative feelings when progress falls short of expectations
(Carver & Scheier, 1998, 1999). Empirical evidence consistent with
this idea as it pertains to personal goals has been reported in sev-
eral articles (e.g., Affleck, Tennen, Urrows, Higgins, Abeles, et al.,
1998; Brunstein, 1993; Hsee & Abelson, 1991; Lawrence, Carver, &
Scheier, 2002).
The notion of goal progress has also been applied more specifi-
cally to relationship goals. Baumeister and Bratslavsky (1999) re-
viewed indirect evidence suggesting that rapid increases in intima-
cy induce positive, relationship-specific emotions such as passion.
Karney and Frye (2002) found that married partners base their judg-
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 141
ments of satisfaction with their relationship more on perceptions of
recent improvements than on the quality of the relationship at that
particular time. Laurenceau, Troy, and Carver (2005) also found evi-
dence consistent with the progress notion as applied to relationship
goals.
In considering how perceived progress relates to subjective out-
comes, it seems important to have an outcome measure that is tied
to the nature of the goals. In research on personal goals, mood, or
psychological well-being is a typical outcome. In research on pro-
fessional goals (e.g., Maier & Brunstein, 2001), job satisfaction is a
common outcome. It would seem reasonable that when examining
shared goals that pertain to a close relationship, the most suitable
outcome would be one that is relationship-linked, such as relation-
ship satisfaction, or perceived relationship quality. That strategy
was implemented in the work reported here.
A PUTATIVE MEDIATION MODEL
In exploring the role of perceived mutuality and perceived prog-
ress, we considered a mediation model: specifically, that sharing
of relationship goals would lead to relationship quality by way of
perceived progress regarding those goals. As Aron and Aron argue
(1986), partners could initially feel motivated to develop shared
goals because of the expanded identity that such fusion with one’s
partner offers. While holding shared goals, couples may be more
productive in goal pursuit because they are more likely to be work-
ing conjointly.
Furthermore, a partner may feel additional motivation to invest
in goal pursuit when both partners benefit from the same efforts.
A handful of scattered findings are consistent with this view. For
example, there is evidence that if a person’s strategies for attain-
ing different goals overlap, pursuing one goal facilitates progress
toward another goal (Riediger & Freund, 2004). This suggests how
the perception of goal mutuality, once established, could enhance
one’s sense of progress. That is, the pursuit of a shared goal lets the
person “kill two birds with one stone,” because it means also pursu-
ing the partner’s goal simultaneously, thus enhancing the sense of
progress for the couple.
142 AVIVI ET AL.
In addition to the hypothesized mediation effects, it is possible
that mutuality of goals could also have direct associations with
perceptions of relationship quality. We believe there could be some
benefits to having a shared sense of direction in life—a sense of
communion—that are present regardless of whether progress is
made. Some work has identified benefits for partners having a com-
mon identity (Buehlman et al., 1992) as well as shared values and
interests (Hill, Rubin, & Peplau, 1976). To our knowledge, however,
no research to date has tested this idea specifically with shared re-
lationship goals.
OVERVIEW OF THE PRESENT RESEARCH
In the work reported here, we conducted two studies focused on the
perceived sharing of goals and perceived goal progress, and their
relations to perceptions of relationship quality. Study 1 examined a
sample of individuals in committed, romantic relationships. Study
2 examined a sample of committed, romantic couples using a dy-
adic design and a daily-diary methodology to obtain relationship
quality outcomes. Both studies also included a control for conflict
communication, a well-documented determinant of relationship
quality (Fincham, 2003; Fincham & Beach, 1999). We included this
control because it might be argued that perception of goal progress
is simply a proxy for relative lack of conflict. Including relationship
conflict in the model would alleviate that concern.
STUDY 1
METHOD
Participants
The sample consisted of 245 undergraduates (176 women) at the
University of Miami, all of whom reported currently being in a
“committed, romantic relationship.” They participated in exchange
for credit toward a course requirement. The mean age for men was
19.59 (SD = 1.96, range 18-28), for women 19.20 (SD = 3.15, range
17-42). The sample was culturally diverse: 50.2% European Ameri-
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 143
can, 20.0% Hispanic, 8.2% African American, 6.9% Asian or Pacific
Islander, 14.7% Other. Most were dating (n = 226), 15 were engaged,
and 4 were married; 11 were living with their romantic partner. Par-
ticipants reported being involved with their partners for an average
of 18.67 months (SD = 20.65).
MATERIALS AND PROCEDURE
Participants completed a set of questionnaires assessing desired
and undesired relationship goals, perceptions of partner mutuality
of those relationship goals, perceptions of progress toward the rela-
tionship goals, relationship conflict, and global relationship quality.
As part of an idiographic approach to relationship goal assessment
(e.g., Emmons, 1986), participants read the following set of direc-
tions (derived from Broemer, 2001):
Please think carefully about certain desired goals or end-states in your
relationship that you would want to come true. It does not matter if
such things have occurred or not. Imagine positive things such as hav-
ing the opportunity for mutual self-disclosure or making your partner
feel like a worthy person. Desirable traits of your partner or your own
personal goals, such as your careers, are not important in the present
context. Please provide 5 desired goals.
A variation on this instruction then was used to elicit undesired re-
lationship goals. Participants were asked to list five desired and five
undesired relationship goals/end-states in the empty text boxes
presented on the questionnaire below the instruction set.
Most approach (desired) goals provided by participants fell into
the categories of desirable relationship feelings, relationship inter-
actions, relationship future, personal behaviors, and partner behav-
iors. Examples are “I want to learn to validate my partner better,” “I
want us to get married,” and “I want us to have beautiful, healthy
children together.” Avoidance (undesired) relationship goals in-
cluded: “I want to avoid being criticized,” “I don’t want to be ig-
nored,” “I don’t want us to split up,” and “I don’t want us to stop
having sex.”
144 AVIVI ET AL.
Goal Mutuality and Progress. After listing their relationship goals,
participants completed additional items. To assess perceived goal
mutuality, participants were asked: “How much do you think your
partner shares these goals?” They responded on a single 7-point
scale (1 = Not at all to 7 = Very much so) regarding the set of de-
sired relationship goals produced. They were also asked, regarding
the set of undesired relationship goals: “How much do you think
your partner also wants to avoid these undesirable outcomes?” on
a 7-point scale (1 = Not at all to 7 = Very much so). The approach
and avoidance items were averaged to yield a composite measure
of perceived partner mutuality for relationship goals (r = .41, p <
.001).1
To assess perceived progress regarding desired relationship goals,
participants were asked: “How well are you and your partner work-
ing together toward these goals?” They responded on a 7-point scale
(1 = Not at all to 7 = Very much so). To assess perceived progress for
undesired relationship goals, participants were also asked: “How
well are you and your partner working together to avoid these un-
desired end-states?” Approach and avoidance goal progress items
were averaged to yield a composite measure of perceived relation-
ship goal progress (r = .71, p < .001).2
Perceived Relationship Quality. Relationship quality was assessed
with the 18-item measure of Perceived Relationship Quality Com-
ponents (PRQC; Fletcher, Simpson, & Thomas, 2000). Items in-
structed participants to rate feelings about their relationship and
relationship partner regarding satisfaction, commitment, intimacy,
trust, passion, and love using a 7-point Likert scale (1 = Not at all
to 7 = Extremely). Higher scores in the PRQC represent higher per-
ceived relationship quality. The alpha reliability coefficient for this
measure was .95.
1. In many contexts it is very important to distinguish approach tendencies from
avoidance tendencies (e.g., Carver, 2004; Laurenceau et al., 2005). We did not do so
here for the following reason. Theoretically, the outcome measure (i.e., perceived
relationship quality) integrates elements reflecting both approach and avoidance
tendencies. Thus, we expected similar patterns across the two classes of goals. Indeed,
conducting separate approach and avoidance analyses did yield similar patterns of
findings. For simplicity, we report only the combined analyses here.
2. As with mutuality, we expected similar patterns for progress in approach and
avoidance goals. Again, separate approach and avoidance analyses yielded similar
patterns of findings, so for simplicity we report only the combined analyses.
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 145
Relationship Conflict. The Communication Patterns Questionnaire
(CPQ; Christensen & Heavey, 1990) assesses problematic interac-
tion and communication patterns in close relationships. For this
study, 8 items tapping demand-withdraw communication, mutual
avoidance, and mutual blame rated on 9-point Likert scales (1 =
Very unlikely to 9 = Very likely) were aggregated to form an index of
self-reported relationship conflict. Scores ranged from 9 to 72 with
higher scores indicating more relationship conflict. Alpha for this
scale was .75.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Correlations of Study 1 variables (along with means and standard
deviations) are in Table 1. As predicted, relationship quality correlat-
ed significantly with perceived partner goal sharing and perceived
goal progress. Also as expected, higher reports of relationship con-
flict related significantly to lower relationship quality, relationship
goal sharing, and perceived goal progress.
Path analyses to assess the proposed mediation model were con-
ducted in Mplus 3.01 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998-2004). In the text and
tables throughout this article, Bs refer to unstandardized regression
coefficients and βs refer to standardized regression coefficients. We
tested a model with goal progress mediating the link between per-
ceived goal mutuality and relationship quality and controlled for
relationship conflict. Where relevant, model fit was assessed using
the χ2 statistic. As can be seen in Figure 1, perceived goal mutual-
TABLE 1. Correlations, Means, and Standard Deviations of Study 1 Variables.
(1) (2) (3) (4)
1. Sharing
2. Progress .78**
3. Conict -.34** -.39**
4. PRQC .59** .71** -.36**
M5.55 5.04 31.02 5.82
SD 1.33 1.55 12.41 1.02
Note. Sharing = Perceptions that the partner shares the participant’s relationship goals; Progress =
Perceived progress regarding relationship goals; Conict = Relationship conict from Communication
Patterns Questionnaire; PRQC = Perceived Relationship Quality Components; Ns for statistics range
from 242 to 245; *p < .05; **p < .01.
146 AVIVI ET AL.
ity predicted perceived goal progress (B = .84, SE = .049, β = .73,
p < .01). In addition, when relationship quality was regressed on
perceived goal mutuality and progress simultaneously, perceived
progress emerged as a significant predictor (B = .39, SE = .048, β
= .59, p < .01), and the effect of perceived goal mutuality dropped
to nonsignificance (B = .08, SE = .06, β = .10, ns). This suggests that
perception of progress mediated the link between perceived goal
mutuality and relationship quality. It should be noted that these ef-
fects are above and beyond the links from relationship conflict to
relationship quality (B = -.01, SE = .004, β = -.09, p < .07) and to per-
ceived goal progress (B = -.02, SE = .005, β = -.14, p < .01).
To test for full mediation, the direct path from goal mutuality to
relationship quality was constrained to zero, including relationship
conflict as a control. This provided one degree of freedom to allow a
test of the full mediation model fit. The nonsignificant chi-square in-
dicated that a complete mediation model was consistent with these
data, χ2 (1) = 1.85, p = .17. An additional test of mediation based
on the significance of the product of the mediated (indirect) paths
using a bootstrapping method (MacKinnon, Lockwood, Hoffman,
West, & Sheets, 2002; Shrout & Bolger, 2002) confirmed support for
a mediation model, indirect effect = .39 (SE=.039), p < .001. We also
examined a mediation model that included conflict as a second, ri-
val mediator of the link between mutuality and quality. The indirect
effect of mutuality through conflict was small but statistically sig-
nificant, indirect effect = .029 (SE=.013), p < .05. Nevertheless, the in-
FIGURE 1. (Study 1): Model of perceived relationship goal progress
mediating the link between perceived goal mutuality and relationship
quality. Effect in parentheses reflects unmediated effect.
Shared
relationship
goals
Global
relationship
quality
Perception of
goal progress
β= .11
(β= .59)
(β= .78) (β= .59)
Shared
relationship
goals
Global
relationship
quality
Perception of
goal progress
β= .11
(β= .59)
(β= .78) (β= .59)
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 147
direct effect of mutuality through progress was considerably larger
and statistically significant, indirect effect = .39 (SE=.039), p < .001.
Because these data are cross-sectional, we were also concerned
that alternative models might equally well represent the relations
between goal mutuality, goal progress, and relationship quality.
Theoretically plausible alternative models can be considered inde-
pendently, but in the context of cross-sectional data, these models
cannot be tested against each other. Comparing the models is not
possible because they all have equivalent degrees of freedom and
thus are not nested models (MacCallum, Wegener, Uchino, & Fabri-
gar, 1993). Therefore the global fit of a theoretically plausible alterna-
tive model is considered here. One plausible alternative model, for
example, could be that goal mutuality would lead to relationship
quality, which in turn would lead to goal progress. In other words,
a couple’s sense that having common future directions could in-
fluence satisfaction directly. In addition, perhaps satisfied couples
are more likely to make progress with their relationship goals. Al-
though this alternative model cannot be compared to our model,
it did not fit these data well when examined in isolation [χ2 (1) =
121.20, p < .0001].
In summary, there was support for the proposed mediation mod-
el. Perceptions of relationship goal mutuality and perceptions of
relationship goal progress both related to relationship quality, but
only progress did so uniquely. Perceived goal progress also medi-
ated the link between relationship goal mutuality and relationship
quality. The more that participants felt their partner shared their
goals for the relationship, the more progress participants perceived
themselves as making regarding those goals, which in turn predict-
ed higher perceptions of relationship quality. Indeed, these data fit
a model in which the link between shared goals and relationship
quality was accounted for entirely by perceptions of goal progress.
Further, the findings were robust to controlling for relationship con-
flict, a well-documented predictor of relationship quality.
STUDY 2
Study 2 was intended to extend the findings from Study 1 in two
ways. First, we used a dyadic design with intact romantic couples.
This permitted us to examine both actor and partner effects among
148 AVIVI ET AL.
the associations of relationship goal characteristics and relationship
quality. Work on interdependence in relationship processes indi-
cates that partners’ subjective relationship experiences, including
relationship goal characteristics, are often intertwined (Rusbult &
Van Lange, 2003). The interdependence of close relationship out-
comes and processes underscores the importance of investigating
partner effects. The use of a dyadic design recasts the couple as the
unit of analysis, rather than the individual. It thereby allows for ex-
amination of links between goal characteristics and partner relation-
ship quality as well as own relationship quality.
Kashy and Kenny’s (2000) actor-partner interdependence model
(APIM) lays the foundation for statistical analyses of these kinds of
questions. In Study 2, associations between the individual’s percep-
tions of relationship goal sharing and his or her own perception of
relationship quality are depicted in Figure 2 and referred to as actor
effects (i.e., paths c and c’). Associations between one individual’s
perception of relationship goal sharing and the partner’s perception
of relationship quality are called partner effects (i.e., paths f and f’).
To test the hypothesis that perceived goal progress mediates the link
between perceived goal sharing and relationship quality, mediated
actor effects and mediated partner effects can be examined (see Figure
2). In mediated actor effects, the link between actors’ own ratings
of goal sharing and their ratings of their own relationship quality
would be explained by actor ratings of goal progress (i.e., indirect
paths a*b and a’*b’) or partner ratings of goal progress (e.g., indirect
paths d*e’ and d’*e). In mediated partner effects, the link between
the actor’s perceptions of goal sharing and the partner’s relation-
ship quality would be explained by actor ratings of goal progress
(e.g., indirect paths a*e’ and a’*e) or partner ratings of goal progress
(e.g., indirect paths d*b and d’*b’). A dyadic framework is useful
for describing, assessing, and testing interdependence of direct and
indirect effects among partners’ variables.
In addition to examining actor and partner effects for judgments
of global relationship quality, we also tested the same proposed dy-
adic mediation effects in a model predicting daily relationship qual-
ity. We focus on daily relationship quality because of the potential
concern that high levels of perceived goal sharing and goal prog-
ress might be considered facets of global relationship quality as a
construct. For example, a “sentiment override” hypothesis (Weiss,
1980) would argue that positive evaluations of global relationship
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 149
quality guides evaluations of other more specific relationship-rele-
vant domains (e.g., relationship goal progress). This possibility can
be tested by models with daily relationship quality as an outcome,
controlling for global relationship quality in addition to relationship
conflict. Such a test would allow us to rule out the potential concern
that perceptions of relationship goal characteristics are largely re-
dundant with perceptions of relationship quality. In sum, Study 2
added both dyadic and daily-diary design components (Laurenceau
& Bolger, 2005) to the procedures of Study 1.
METHOD
Participants
The sample for Study 2 included both male and female partners
from each of 78 couples at the University of Miami, who identified
themselves as being in a committed romantic relationship. They
participated in partial fulfillment of a course requirement. Mean age
of men was 20.29 (SD = 4.95, range 18-55) and mean age of women
FIGURE 2. (Study 2): Actor and partner effects for dyadic mediation
model with global relationship quality as outcome. Estimates constrained
the paths for females and males to be equal. Covariances between male
and female error terms are estimated but not shown. Path labels are
organized by the partner whose outcomes are being predicted.
Male perception
of shared goals
Female perception
of shared goals Female perception
of goal progress
Male perception
of goal progress Male view of global
relationship quality
Female view of global
relationship quality
f
d
c
ab
f'
e
e'
d'
b'a'
c'
Male perception
of shared goals
Male perception
of shared goals
Female perception
of shared goals
Female perception
of shared goals Female perception
of goal progress
Female perception
of goal progress
Male perception
of goal progress
Male perception
of goal progress Male view of global
relationship quality
Male view of global
relationship quality
Female view of global
relationship quality
Female view of global
relationship quality
f
d
c
ab
f'
e
e'
d'
b'a'
c'
150 AVIVI ET AL.
19.28 (SD = 3.32, range 17-42). The sample was culturally diverse;
41.0% European America American, 33.3% Hispanic, 3.8% African
American, 6.4% Asian Pacific Islander, 0.6% Native American,14.7%
Other. Most couples were dating (n = 74), 2 were engaged, and 2
were married; 5 couples were living together. Participants reported
being involved with their romantic partners for an average of 8.49
months (SD = 6.49).
Materials and Procedure
As in Study 1, participants ideographically listed their approach
(desired) and avoidance (undesired) relationship goals and rated
their perceptions of mutuality and progress regarding those goals.
Ratings of approach and avoidance goal sharing were averaged to
yield a sharing index for women (r = .41, p < .01) and men (r = .37,
p < .01). Approach and avoidance goal progress items were aver-
aged to yield a progress index for women (r = .62, p < .01) and men
(r =.55, p < .01). The PRQC (Fletcher et al., 2000) was again used to
assess overall perceptions of relationship quality (alpha = .94 for
women, .95 for men). The CPQ (Christensen & Heavey, 1990) was
again used to assess relationship conflict (alpha = .72 for women,
.78 for men).
In addition to these global measures, each male and female partner
from every couple was provided with a personal digital assistant.
Participants were told that the study would include daily record-
ing of their relationship experiences, twice a day, for 10 consecutive
days—once in the morning approximately 1 hour after waking and
once in the evening approximately 1 hour before going to sleep.
Participants were trained in the use of the Experience Sampling
Program (ESP; Feldman Barrett, 2000; Feldman Barrett & Barrett,
2001) running on the Palm OS®, which was used for the presenta-
tion of the daily diary items. Approximately 85% of the entries fell
within the valid daily time intervals for completion of diaries and
only valid daily diary data were used in these analyses.
The ESP program presented a range of questions about the dai-
ly experience of the partner, including items tapping relationship
quality. A measure of daily relationship quality was constructed by
aggregating three diary items, assessing intimacy (At this moment,
how much intimacy/connectedness do you feel with your part-
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 151
ner), closeness (the item Inclusion of Other in the Self; Aron, Aron,
& Smollan, 1992), and satisfaction (At this moment, how satisfied
do you feel in your relationship). Each was recorded on a 7-point
scale with higher scores reflecting greater levels of daily relation-
ship quality. Day 1 inter-item reliability for this 3-item composite
was .92 for both male and female partners.
RESULTS
Predicting Global Relationship Quality
Correlations among Study 2 variables (along with means and stan-
dard deviations) are reported in Table 2. Overall relationship qual-
ity related positively to perceived goal sharing and perceived goal
progress. Female reports of conflict related negatively to both fe-
male and male goal ratings of goal sharing, goal progress, and rela-
tionship quality; male reports of conflict related negatively to male
goal mutuality, progress, and relationship quality, and to female
goal progress.
TABLE 2. Correlations, Means, and Standard Deviations of
Study 2 Variables for Male and Female Partners.
Female Partners Male Partners
Sharing Progress Conict PRQC Sharing Progress Conict PRQC
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
(1) —
(2) .62** —
(3) -.32** -.49*
(4) .55** .71** -.31**
(5) .25* .42** -.27* .33**
(6) .33** .47** -.34** .35** .70**
(7) -.21 -.33** .48** -.22 -.41** -.46**
(8) .30** .59** -.32** .62** .59** .63** -.36**
M5.57 5.51 28.95 5.94 5.38 5.30 29.97 5.96
SD 1.21 1.17 11.75 .87 1.20 1.19 12.39 0.88
Note. N = 78. Sharing = Sharing of relationship goals; Progress = Progress on relationship goals; Con-
ict = Relationship conict from Communication Patterns Questionnaire; PRQC = Perceived relation-
ship quality components; *p < .05; **p < .01.
152 AVIVI ET AL.
Using Mplus 3.01 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998-2004), we evaluated
actor and partner effects initially by regressing relationship qual-
ity on perceived goal sharing. Models were initially fit by estimat-
ing actor and partner effect coefficients separately for male and fe-
male partners. Recall that actor effects are defined as associations
between actors’ perception of goal sharing and his/her own rela-
tionship quality. Partner effects are defined as associations between
actors’ perception of relationship goal sharing and their partners’
relationship quality. It is also important to note that actor effects are
always considered in the presence of partner effects, and vice versa
(Kashy & Kenny, 2000).
Initial analyses of a dyadic model whereby global relationship
quality was regressed on goal mutuality indicated that actor and
partner effect coefficients were similar in magnitude across men and
women. As a result, we then tested a model where actor and partner
effects were constrained to be equivalent across men and women.
Moreover, constrained paths increase the power for detecting an ef-
fect. This constrained model fit the data very well, χ2 (2) = 0.40, p =
.81, and revealed both significant actor effects, B = .38, β = .53, p <
.001, and partner effects, B = .12, β = .17, p < .05. The actor effects
were significantly larger than the partner effects, χ2 (3) = 21.02, p =
.0001. These estimated actor and partner effects can also be thought
of as total effects to be partitioned into direct and indirect effects in
the dyadic mediation analyses that follow.
Mediation of Actor Effects. We first determined that there were sig-
nificant and unique links to relationship quality both from perceived
relationship goal sharing, B =.15, p < .01, and perceived relationship
goal progress, B = .45, p < .01, for both men and women when ex-
amined simultaneously. Next, we tested the hypothesis that the link
between mutuality and relationship quality would be mediated by
perceptions of progress. A dyadic mediation model was initially fit
estimating path coefficients separately for both male and female
partners, but a model that constrained male and female effects to be
equivalent was consistent with the data, χ2 (6) = 8.73, p = .19. Table
3 contains the estimated standardized effects for each constrained
pathway in this model.
We focus first on the actor-mediated actor effects. Perceived goal
sharing predicted perceived relationship goal progress, B = .76, β =
.61, p < .01. When relationship quality was predicted by goal shar-
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 153
ing and progress simultaneously, own perceived goal progress re-
mained a significant predictor, B = .31, β = .46, p < .05, and the effect
of own perceptions of goal sharing dropped significantly, Sobel z =
4.05, p < .01, but remained statistically significant, B = .15, β = .21,
p < .05. In other words, actor relationship goal progress partially
mediated the link between actor ratings of goal sharing and actor
perception of relationship quality. This is an actor-mediated actor
effect (i.e., the actor’s effect is mediated by the actor’s perceptions
of progress) and is equivalent to the product of paths a and b (along
with a’*b’) in Figure 2. Testing the mediated (indirect) path using
a bootstrapping method (MacKinnon et al., 2002; Shrout & Bolger,
2002) confirmed support for an actor-mediated actor effect, indirect
effect = .20, p < .01, 95% CI = .10, .31.
We also tested for a partner-mediated actor effect (i.e., the ac-
tor’s outcome is mediated by partner perceptions of relationship
goal progress), which is equivalent to the product of paths d’ and e
(along with d*e’). The partner-mediated actor effect was not statisti-
cally significant, indirect effect = .03, p = .12, 95% CI = -.01, .07, sug-
gesting that mediation of the actor effects occurred primarily via the
actor’s perceptions of relationship goal progress.
Mediation of Partner Effects. In addition to mediated actor effects,
there were significant mediated partner effects in the prediction of
global relationship quality. Specifically, after including actor and
partner perceptions of goal progress as mediators, the partner ef-
fects linking an individual’s perceptions of goal sharing to the part-
ner’s global relationship quality were no longer significant, B = -.04,
β = -.06, ns. This indicates that the actor’s perceived goal progress,
the partner’s perceived goal progress, or both, fully mediated the
TABLE 3. Estimated Actor and Partner Effects Predicting Global Relationship Quality in
Figure 2 (Paths Are Constrained to be Equal across Male and Female Partners).
Standardized Path Coefcients
Path a: β = 0.61, z = 9.25, p < .001
Path b: β = 0.46, z = 4.46, p < .001
Path c: β = 0.20, z = 2.06, p < .05
Path d: β = 0.21, z = 3.46, p < .01
Path e: β = 0.21, z = 2.11, p < .05
Path f: β = -0.06, z = -0.51, ns
154 AVIVI ET AL.
partner effects—that is, the link from an individual’s perceptions
of goal sharing to the partner’s global relationship quality. We next
tested which of these variables serves as a mediator (or if both serve
that role).
The actor-mediated partner effect (i.e., the effect on the partner’s
outcome that is mediated by actor perceptions of goal progress) is
equivalent to the product of paths a and e’ (along with a’*e) in Fig-
ure 2. The bootstrapped test of mediation indicated a marginally
significant actor-mediated partner effect, Indirect effect = .09, 95%
CI = -.01, .19, p < .07. We also tested for a partner-mediated partner
effect (i.e., an effect on the partner’s outcome that is mediated by
partner perceived goal progress); this is equivalent to the product
of paths d and b (along with d’*b’). The partner-mediated partner
effect was statistically significant, indirect effect = .07, 95% CI = .01,
.13, p < .05. Taken together, these findings suggest that the effect of
the actor’s perception of shared relationship goals on the partner’s
relationship satisfaction occurred via both actor and partner per-
ceived goal progress.
We then reexamined the proposed mediation model controlling
for the effects of relationship conflict. To do this, we included re-
lationship conflict as an additional predictor of both relationship
quality and goal progress in the mediation path model for male and
female partners. Relationship conflict was a significant predictor of
goal progress for both men (B = -.16, β = -.22, p < .01) and women
(B = -.20, β = -.25, p < .01). Even when controlling for relationship
conflict, however, the pattern of results described above emerged
again, effect sizes were not reduced significantly, and the mediation
model was still consistent with the data.
Predicting Average Daily Relationship Quality
The analyses using daily relationship quality as an outcome re-
quired the use of a multilevel modeling strategy for dyadic diary
data (Bolger, Davis, & Rafaeli, 2003; Laurenceau & Bolger, 2005). In
brief, we conceived of variation in daily relationship quality at two
levels: within-couples (level 1) and between couples (level 2). As
depicted in Figure 3, we use the notation of Krull and MacKinnon
(2001) to indicate that the proposed mediation model is a 2 2 1
model where a level-2 variable (perceived relationship goal shar-
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 155
ing) is hypothesized to influence another level-2 variable (perceived
goal progress) which in turn influences a level-1 variable (daily re-
lationship quality). As suggested by Krull and MacKinnon (2001),
multilevel mediation models require that standard errors for effects
take into account the nesting structure of these dyadic repeated
measures data.3
As when modeling global relationship quality above, we first ex-
amined a model with actor and partner effects for daily relationship
quality regressed on perceptions of shared goals. Because male and
female parameter estimates were of similar magnitude, we tested a
model where actor and partner effects were constrained to be equal
across gender and found that it fit the data, χ2 (2) = 2.57, p = .28.
Both actor (B = .25, p < .01) and partner effects (B = .29, p < .001)
were significant, indicating that the actor’s average daily relation-
FIGURE 3. (Study 2): Actor and partner effects for dyadic mediation
model with daily relationship quality as outcome. Covariances between
male and female error terms are estimated but not shown.
3. Moreover, because it is recommended that coefficients from multilevel models
not be standardized (see Willett, Singer, & Martin, 1998), we present unstandardized
coefficients for the remainder of this Results section.
Male perception
of shared goals
Female perception
of shared goals Female perception
of goal progress
Male perception
of goal progress Male view of global
relationship quality
Female view of global
relationship quality
f
d
c
ab
f'
e
e'
d'
b'a'
c'
Male conflict and
global relationship quality
Female conflict and
global relationship quality
Level 2 Level 1
Male perception
of shared goals
Male perception
of shared goals
Female perception
of shared goals
Female perception
of shared goals Female perception
of goal progress
Female perception
of goal progress
Male perception
of goal progress
Male perception
of goal progress Male view of global
relationship quality
Male view of global
relationship quality
Female view of global
relationship quality
Female view of global
relationship quality
f
d
c
ab
f'
e
e'
d'
b'a'
c'
Male conflict and
global relationship quality
Female conflict and
global relationship quality
Level 2 Level 1
156 AVIVI ET AL.
ship quality was predicted by both actor and partner perceptions
of shared goals. We expected that both of these effects would be
reduced significantly once perceived goal progress was included as
a mediator.
Mediation of Actor Effects. Figure 3 depicts a model in which per-
ceived goal progress mediates the association between perceived
goal sharing and daily relationship quality. To rule out the possibil-
ity that global relationship quality and relationship conflict might
account for the observed actor and partner mediated effects for dai-
ly relationship quality, the effects we report below included these
variables as covariates. We note that neither relationship conflict
nor global relationship quality was a significant predictor of daily
relationship quality, once taking into account the other variables in
the model. As seen in Table 4, the direct actor effects (c and c’) are no
longer significant, indicating full mediation. The first leg of the ac-
tor-mediated actor effect, the links between perceived goal sharing
and perceived goal progress (paths a and a’), was statistically sig-
nificant. The second leg of the actor-mediated actor effect, the links
between perceived goal progress and daily relationship satisfaction
(paths b and b’), was also significant. The corresponding Sobel test
revealed significant mediation (Sobel z = 2.58, p < .01).4
Turning to the partner-mediated actor effects, the links between
actor perceptions of goal sharing and partner perceived goal prog-
ress (paths d and d’) were significant. The links between partner
perceived goal progress and actor daily relationship quality (paths e
TABLE 4. Estimated Actor and Partner Effects Predicting Daily Relationship Quality in
Figure 3, Controlling for Relationship Conict and Global Relationship Quality (Paths
Are Constrained to be Equal across Male and Female Partners).
Unstandardized Path Coefcients
Ba = Ba' = .33 (SE = .06), p < .01
Bb = Bb' = .26 (SE = .09), p < .01
Bc = Bc' = .04 (SE = .09), ns
Bd = Bd' = .12 (SE = .05), p < .01
Be = Be' = .28 (SE = .09), p < .01
Bf = Bf' = .07 (SE = .09), ns
4. Bootstrapped confidence intervals for indirect effects in multilevel models are not
readily available in existing multilevel modeling packages.
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 157
and e’) were also significant. The corresponding Sobel test revealed
significant mediation (Sobel z = 2.50, p < .05). Thus, there is evidence
for full mediation of perceived relationship goal mutuality actor
effects via both actor and partner perceptions of relationship goal
progress, controlling for relationship conflict and global relation-
ship quality.
Mediation of Partner Effects. In addition to mediation of actor ef-
fects, there was significant mediation of partner effects for daily
relationship quality, controlling for relationship conflict and global
relationship quality. Specifically, after including actor perceived
goal progress as a mediator, the links between actor perceptions of
goal mutuality and partner daily relationship quality are no longer
statistically significant effects (paths f and f’). This indicates that
perceived goal progress fully mediated these associations. Focusing
first on actor-mediated partner effects, the links between perceived
goal mutuality and actor perceived goal progress (paths a and a’) as
well as between actor progress and partner daily relationship qual-
ity (paths e and e’) were positive and statistically significant. The
corresponding Sobel test revealed significant mediation (Sobel z =
2.71, p < .005). Focusing next on the partner-mediated partner effects,
the links between perceived goal mutuality and partner perceived
goal progress (paths d and d’) as well as between partner perceived
goal progress and partner daily relationship quality (paths b and
b’) were positive and statistically significant. The corresponding So-
bel test revealed marginally significant mediation (Sobel z = 1.87, p
< .07). Thus, there is evidence for full mediation of perceived goal
mutuality partner effects via both actor and partner perceived goal
progress, controlling for relationship conflict and global relation-
ship quality.
DISCUSSION
Findings from Study 2 successfully replicated and extended the
findings of Study 1 using an independent sample of romantic cou-
ples. In this study, perceptions of sharing relationship goals and
perceptions of progress were both significantly associated with re-
lationship quality; indeed, each of these variables predicted unique
variance in relationship quality. This pattern occurred with both
global and daily relationship quality as outcomes. Furthermore,
158 AVIVI ET AL.
perceptions of progress with regard to relationship goals partially
mediated the link between mutuality of partners’ relationship goals
and their ratings of relationship quality.
In addition to replicating these Study 1 patterns, the dyadic de-
sign in Study 2 allowed us to examine cross-partner effects with
these constructs. Individuals’ perceptions of relationship goal shar-
ing related both to their own view of relationship quality, and to
their partners’ view of relationship quality. In addition, these effects
were mediated—sometimes partially, sometimes fully—by both ac-
tor and partner ratings of goal progress.
Finally, we addressed the possibility that perceptions of relation-
ship goal progress are merely reflections of global relationship qual-
ity. We did this by examining daily relationship quality as an out-
come and controlling for global assessments of relationship quality.
The mediation model still held. As in Study 1, these findings also
held after controlling for relationship conflict.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
This research had two central aims. The first was to examine asso-
ciations among the perception that one’s partner shares one’s own
goals for the relationship, the perception of progress with regard to
those shared goals, and perceptions of relationship quality. Study
1 found associations among these variables, but only perception of
progress predicted relationship quality uniquely. Study 2 replicated
associations between relationship quality and the other two vari-
ables, and in Study 2 both of those variables uniquely predicted re-
lationship quality. In Study 2, this pattern was replicated with both
global and daily relationship quality as outcomes.
As far as we know, these studies are the first to show connections
between the perceived quality of a relationship and perceptions of
sharing of goals for the relationship. Similarities of various types
have been examined in a good deal of research on relationships,
but that work focused on other kinds of similarities, such as per-
sonality traits or political and religious attitudes (e.g., Watson et al.,
2004). Theorists have speculated about the benefits of mutual goals
in relationships, but to our knowledge this is the first study to test
empirically such an association.
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 159
To our knowledge, these studies also represent the first empirical
attempt to relate relationship quality to perceptions of progress with
respect to relationship goals. As seen in the broader personality and
goals literatures, perceptions of goal progress is important for sub-
jective outcomes including feelings of well-being (Carver & Scheier,
1998, 1999; Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999). Other studies sup-
port the idea that people experience positive feelings when moving
toward their goals at a relatively high pace and negative feelings
when falling short of expectations (Hsee & Abelson, 1991; Lawrence
et al., 2002). This pattern has also been found with social-interper-
sonal goals and mood ratings in a clinical population (Affleck et al.,
1998) and with perceived changes in intimacy, conflict levels, and
affect (Laurenceau et al., 2005). However, the studies reported here
are the first to examine such patterns with ideographically-assessed
shared relationship goals and perceptions of the quality of the rela-
tionship.
The final aim of this research was to test the possibility that per-
ceptions of relationship goal progress would mediate associations
between the other variables. In Study 1, progress fully mediated the
link between perceived sharing of relationship goals and relation-
ship quality. In Study 2, perceived progress partially mediated the
link between perceived sharing of relationship goals and relation-
ship quality. These findings are consistent with our conceptualiza-
tion in which mutuality of relationship goals facilitates relationship
coordination and functioning (i.e., progress with relationship goals),
thereby generating higher relationship quality. Such a conceptual-
ization recasts mutuality between partners’ goals as a variable that
fosters goal progress. Goal progress, in turn, functions as the more
proximal predictor of the subjective relationship outcome.
An additional contribution of this work (Study 2) was method-
ological: use of the APIM to examine these dyadic data. This meth-
odological approach afforded the benefit of assessing interdepen-
dence between partners with regard to the constructs under study.
Using this modeling approach, we found evidence of interdepen-
dence: individuals’ perceptions of relationship quality related not
only to their own perceptions of relationship goal sharing but also
to their partners’ ratings of relationship goal sharing. Additionally,
relationship quality is determined not only by an individual’s own
ratings of relationship goal progress, but also by the partner’s rat-
ings of goal progress. Moreover, we extended the typical use of the
160 AVIVI ET AL.
APIM by examining the proposed mediation model within a dyadic
context. The effect of an actor’s perception of shared relationship
goals on actor relationship quality occurred via actor perceived goal
progress (i.e., an actor-mediated actor effect); the effect of an actor’s
perception of shared goals on the partner’s relationship quality oc-
curred via both actor and partner perceived goal progress (i.e., both
actor- and partner-mediated partner effects).
The significant direct and indirect partner effects suggest interde-
pendence with regard to these constructs. In other words, both actor
and partner relationship goal characteristics contribute to the actor’s
view of relationship quality and examining either view in isolation
would be misleading. This is consistent with characterizations of in-
terdependence in relationship processes (Kelley et al., 2003; Rusbult
& Van Lange, 2003), and suggests that partners’ experiences regard-
ing relationship goals and quality are similarly intertwined.
In both studies, we also addressed important potential method-
ological confounds. First, we controlled for the effects of relation-
ship conflict in both Studies 1 and 2. It is important to note that
conflict is a widely used predictor of relationship quality (Fincham
& Beach, 1999). In both studies, the findings held when controlling
for relationship conflict. Although relationship conflict displayed
significant zero-order associations with relationship quality in these
studies, progress regarding relationship goals related significantly
to relationship quality above and beyond the effect of conflict.
Second, in Study 2 we were also able to control for the global sense
of relationship quality when examining daily relationship quality
as our outcome. Documenting a link between progress and daily re-
lationship quality in this way confirms that perceptions of progress
with relationship goals are not merely an epiphenomenon of global
relationship quality.
Despite finding support for our central hypotheses, we should
also note some potential limitations. First, it would have been de-
sirable to supplement self-reports of perceived goal characteristics
with more objective measures. For example, it is possible that in-
dividuals don’t accurately perceive the level of mutuality in their
and their partners’ goals. We believe, however, that in dealing with
the sort of subjective outcomes measured in this study, the more
relevant predictor would be the individuals’ subjective perceptions.
Future replications could benefit, nonetheless, from comparing sub-
RELATIONSHIP GOALS 161
jective and objective measures of goal characteristics such as mutu-
ality and progress.
A second limitation is that these studies used relatively young par-
ticipants in dating relationships. To improve generalizability, future
studies should examine relationships of longer length and greater
commitment, such as marriages. Furthermore, testing our hypoth-
eses longitudinally would augment our cross-sectional methodol-
ogy. Specifically, this would enable testing alternative models and
would help in considering causal links.
In conclusion, however, our findings point to a central role for
goals in the context of romantic relationships. Both theory and the
findings reported here suggest that perceived progress toward rela-
tionship goals is a particularly important influence on relationship
quality. We believe that goal-based constructs will continue to be
a fruitful direction for understanding close relationship outcomes
and processes, beyond traditional indicators of relationship func-
tioning, such as conflict.
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... Regarding the similarity of partners' goals, spouses should see each other as more helpful when their goals align, which, in turn, should be associated with less conflict. Supporting this notion, goal similarity was found to predict goal progress for both relationship goals (Avivi et al., 2009) and academic goals (Fitzsimons & Anderson, 2011). In the long run, couples who coordinate their efforts less efficiently are more prone to divorce, even when controlling for the relationship's internal quality and several demographic and individual variables (Gere et al., 2016). ...
... There is growing evidence that joint goal pursuit (or the lack thereof) is an important factor for romantic couples regarding their goal progress (Avivi et al., 2009;Fitzsimons & Anderson, 2011;Sadikaj et al., 2015). Having a committed romantic relationship is not only an essential aspect of goalrelated behaviors but achieving and maintaining it can also be considered as an age-graded developmental task per se (Erikson, 1950;Salmela-Aro et al., 2007). ...
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... Perceiving goal progress promotes positive affect, whereas perceived lack of goal progress promotes negative affect. Further, perceived progress toward shared relational goals promotes relational quality and reduces conflict negativity in intimate relationships (Avivi et al., 2009). This suggests patterns of change in individuals' and partners' goal pursuit over time are not merely descriptive, but are outcomes in themselves, and may have implications for both interactional and relational outcomes. ...
... Subsequent research illustrated that a partner's increasing focus on partner-identity and self-identity goals predicted increases and decreases, respectively, in argument resolvability from pre-interaction to post-interaction (Worley et al., in press). This illustrates that goal trajectories not only predict long-term relationship dynamics (Avivi et al., 2009), but also outcomes of discrete interactions. ...
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A longstanding tradition in communication research is that people have goals for communicative encounters. Communication research has evolved to better acknowledge that goals are malleable and can change during interactions. Drawing upon the history of communication goals theorizing and research, we elaborate three properties emerging from the juxtaposition of goals and time. We then explore theoretical accounts of goal change and options for data acquisition. We end with speculation on how goal dynamics might stimulate new questions about interpersonal communication and, perhaps, move the field into a new phase of inquiry.
... We operationally define goals as joint when spouses report goals they have in common and want to achieve together with their partner. Extending research with younger couples and a focus on relationship goals (Avivi et al., 2009) we assume that a higher number of joint goals allows older spouses to pool their resources and make better goal progress. ...
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Older adults often have long-term relationships, and many of their goals are intertwined with their respective partners. Joint goals can help or hinder goal progress. Little is known about how accurately older adults assess if a goal is joint, the role of over-reporting in these perceptions, and how joint goals and over-reporting may relate to older partners' relationship satisfaction and physical health (operationally defined as allostatic load). Two-hundred-thirty-six older adults from 118 couples (50% female; Mage=71 years) listed their three most important goals and whether they thought of them as goals they had in common with and wanted to achieve together with their partner (self-reported joint goals). Two independent raters classified goals as "joint" if both partners independently listed open-ended goals of the same content. Goal progress and relationship satisfaction were assessed one week later. Allostatic load was calculated using nine different biomarkers. Results show that 85% self-reported at least one goal as joint. Over-reporting– the perception that a goal was joint when in fact it was not mentioned among the three most salient goals of the spouse – occurred in one-third of all goals. Multilevel models indicate that the number of externally-rated joint goals was related to greater goal progress and lower allostatic load, but only for adults with little over-reporting. More joint goals and higher over-reporting were each linked with more relationship satisfaction. In conclusion, joint goals are associated with goal progress, relationship satisfaction, and health, but the association is dependent on the domain of functioning.
... For instance, correspondence of partners' romantic ideals was found to be associated with relationship functioning (Campbell et al., 2001). Similarly, the degree to which relationship goals are perceived as shared by the other partner was found to be associated with relationship functioning (Avivi et al., 2009). ...
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The dualistic model of sexual passion defines sexual passion as a strong motivational drive to engage in various types of partnered and non-partnered sexual activities and distinguishes two types of sexual passion that lead to distinct consequences, obsessive sexual passion (OSP) and harmonious sexual passion (HSP). The purpose of the present research was to examine the associations between these two types of sexual passion and relationship functioning in partners of romantic relationships using dyadic analyses. Heterosexual participants (132 couples; n = 264) completed an online survey which included three indicators of relationship functioning: relationship quality, sexual satisfaction, and level of conflict. An actor-partner interdependence model analysis (APIM) revealed that, for both men and women, HSP was positively associated with relationship functioning, whereas OSP was negatively associated with it. In addition, results unveiled significant partner effects, such that both men’s and women’s HSP were associated with their partners’ perceptions of relationship functioning, but not for OSP. Finally, there were a significant moderation between men’s HSP and women’s OSP on women’s relationship functioning, suggesting that men’s HSP can buffer the negative effect of women’s OSP. The present results provide evidence that sexual passion can either facilitate or hinder relationship functioning through multiple personal and dyadic pathways.
... Sebaliknya, individu dengan kualitas hubungan yang tinggi juga memiliki harapan yang tinggi. Kualitas hubungan yang tinggi akan mendorong individu untuk bergerak aktif di dalam hubungan untuk mencapai tujuan bersama pasangannya (Avivi, Laurenceau, & Carver, 2009;Farooqi, 2014). Dengan demikian, penelitian ini dilakukan untuk meneliti apakah terdapat hubungan yang signifikan antara harapan dan kualitas hubungan pada dewasa muda yang sedang menjalani hubungan pacaran. ...
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Pacaran merupakan hubungan eksklusif yang dijalani oleh individu dan pasangannya. Hubungan pacaran sangat penting bagi dewasa muda. Terlebih lagi, studi-studi terkini menemukan bahwa permasalahan terkait hubungan pacaran dapat menurunkan kesehatan mental individu. Oleh karena itu, individu membutuhkan harapan yang tinggi untuk dapat menyelesaikan konflik dengan efektif dan menjaga hubungan pacarannya dengan baik. Ketika menjalani hubungan romantis, individu juga dapat mengevaluasi hubungan pacarannya secara positif ataupun negatif yang disebut dengan kualitas hubungan. Studi ini bertujuan untuk meneliti apakah harapan memiliki korelasi dengan kualitas hubungan kepada 200 dewasa muda yang sedang menjalani hubungan pacaran. Penelitian dilakukan secara kuantitatif dengan menggunakan instrumen yaitu The Hope Scale dan The Perceived Relationship Quality Component. Hasil menunjukkan bahwa adanya hubungan signifikan antara harapan dan kualitas hubungan. Dengan kata lain, semakin tinggi harapan, maka semakin tinggi juga kualitas hubungan, dan sebaliknya. Penemuan lain yang berkaitan dengan harapan dan kualitas hubungan juga turut didiskusikan.
... Relationship satisfaction: According to Mattson and others, relationship satisfaction is one of the most important variables in romantic relationship research [9]. Romantic relationship satisfaction corresponds to judgment of an individual about the positivity of his/her relationship [10][11]. Relationship satisfaction is known as the best predictor of stability in the relationship [12]. ...
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... There are several possible interaction effects. For example, an extrinsic individual may be more satisfied with an extrinsic partner, because similar values (a match effect) such as goal mutuality or similarity have been shown to promote relationship well-being (Avivi et al. 2009;Fitzsimons and Finkel 2010). In contrast, a mismatch in goals could contribute to poorer relationship well-being. ...
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Introduction. Relationship research rooted in self-determination theory often focuses on autonomy support. However, rarely is this interpersonal style considered alongside other facets of relational behaviours such as directive support and control. Objective. The present study aimed at distinguishing the three styles by providing a tool that can simultaneously assess them. Method. A total sample of 710 French Canadians involved in a romantic relationship was used for factor extraction and test of dimensionality as well as reliability. Predictive validity was tested using multiple linear regressions with six outcomes: well-being, relationship quality, closeness, goal progress, cooperation and conflicts. Results. Results suggested three distinct interpersonal styles, each of which showing a different pattern of prediction with the outcomes. Conclusion. The present research offers a scale which simultaneously assesses and distinguishes the autonomy-supportive, directive-supportive and controlling styles in a romantic relationship context. By examining the associations between these three interpersonal styles and various outcomes four months later, this study sheds light on helpful and harmful behaviours in relation to the goals people have for their romantic partner.
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The popularity of Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games has increased significantly in recent years but much of the available academic literature deals with the negative effects of gaming. This qualitative exploratory study sought to understand the perceived effects of MMO gaming on quality of romantic relationships of emerging adults who played these games together. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 students (5 males, 5 females) belonging to a university in Maharashtra. Students who were in romantic relationships and played online games with their partners were selected through convenience sampling. Thematic analysis of transcribed interviews showed that MMO games had both salutary (enhancing communication, creating a fantasy world, establishing common goals) and detrimental impact (heightened aggression, conflict) on the quality of relationships, and also served to underscore existing gender roles in society. Implications and scope for further study are discussed.
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This research extends previous work indicating that individuals are more effective at regulating their behavior when they are in goal-congruent contexts by examining whether individuals particularly need concrete goal-relevant situational affordances once they are in these broadly affirming contexts. Specifically, the authors explore this issue by using the broad context of steady dating relationships (i.e., intimacy-relevant contexts), and considering the role of both intimacy goals and intimacy-affording daily life situations in producing relationship satisfaction and maintenance over time. Results indicate that those with a strong focus on intimacy experience considerable relationship satisfaction regardless of whether they spend time in daily life situations that facilitate intimacy, whereas those without such a focus depend for satisfaction on the presence of intimacy-conducive situations (e.g., time alone with one's partner, or social support from one's partner). Discussion focuses on the theoretical implications of these findings for the Person x Situation literature.
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A Monte Carlo study compared 14 methods to test the statistical significance of the intervening variable effect. An intervening variable (mediator) transmits the effect of an independent variable to a dependent variable. The commonly used R. M. Baron and D. A. Kenny (1986) approach has low statistical power. Two methods based on the distribution of the product and 2 difference-in-coefficients methods have the most accurate Type I error rates and greatest statistical power except in 1 important case in which Type I error rates are too high. The best balance of Type I error and statistical power across all cases is the test of the joint significance of the two effects comprising the intervening variable effect.
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Two studies used the self-concordance model of healthy goal striving (K. M. Sheldon & A. J. Elliot, 1999) to examine the motivational processes by which people can increase their level of well-being during a period of time and then maintain the gain or perhaps increase it even further during the next period of time. In Study I, entering freshmen with self-concordant motivation better attained their 1st-semester goals, which in turn predicted increased adjustment and greater self-concordance for the next semester's goals. Increased self-concordance in turn predicted even better goal attainment during the 2nd semester, which led to further increases in adjustment and to higher levels of ego development by the end of the year. Study 2 replicated the basic model in a 2-week study of short-term goals set in the laboratory. Limits of the model and implications for the question of how (and whether) happiness may be increased are discussed.
Book
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
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A new methodology for the systemic appraisal of personal project systems was utilized as an approach to understanding perceived life satisfaction. Variables derived from the Personal Projects Matrix were shown to explain variability in reported life satisfaction in two separate, studies, one with a university sample, the other in a small community. High life satisfaction was found to be associated with (a) involvement in projects of high short-term importance that were highly enjoyable and moderately difficult, and (b) the presence of a social network that shared project involvements and offered social support. A cross-validation analysis revealed that the results obtained with the larger university sample generalized to the community group. The studies reported below were based on three interrelated assumptions: (a) that perceptions of life satisfaction are related to the way in which individuals structure and organize their projects and concerns; (b) that these projects and concerns may be conceived as being organized in systems whose properties can be assessed; and (c) that indexes based on such measurement will explain significant proportions of variance in global measures of perceived life satisfaction.
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What kinds of stories do people wish to tell about the development of their close relationships? To address this question, 2 studies of newlyweds compared retrospective reports of marital satisfaction over 4 years with prospective data on marital satisfaction over the same period. In both studies, growth curve analyses revealed that spouses tended to recall satisfaction that had declined in the distant past but made up for those declines with recent improvements. Prospective reports, however, tended to decline linearly over time. Furthermore. Study 2 revealed that current confidence in the future of the relationship was associated with perceptions of change in satisfaction but not perceptions of past levels of satisfaction. Results suggest that the ability to perceive improvements, especially over the recent past, may be a source of hope for partners in less satisfying relationships.