The Role of Regulatory Focus Motivation in Experiencing Relationship Success
MetadataShow full item record
Successful close relationships lie at the heart of people’s health and happiness. Relationship science has argued for several critical relationship qualities that are essential for the maintenance and well-being of romantic relationships. However, this research has largely adopted a “one size fits all” approach, and has mostly ignored the potential for variability in the relationship qualities that people value. This dissertation adopts insights from motivation science to unveil systematic variability in the extent to which two critical relationship qualities —security and growth—enrich relationship well-being. The current research adopted Regulatory Focus Theory (Higgins, 1997) to examine the hypothesis that growth-related relationship qualities are essential for the experience of relationship success for promotion-focused individuals (those who value nurturance, the pursuit of ideals, and employ eager strategies), but not prevention-focused individuals (those who value safety, the pursuit of obligations, and employ vigilant strategies), and that security-related relationship qualities are essential for the experience of relationship success for prevention-focused individuals, but not promotion-focused individuals. Across 5 studies, I found that individuals in a promotion focus, whether chronic (Studies 1-3, 5) or temporarily induced (Study 4), rated and prioritized the importance of relationship growth versus security qualities (Studies 1-3), and rated their own relationship well-being higher when growth (but not security) qualities were more (versus less) present (Study 4). Promotion-focused people also reported higher relationship well-being when induced to experience their relationship as being represented by growth qualities than when induced to experience their relationship as being represented by security qualities (Study 5). In contrast, prevention-focused individuals showed a preference for security-related relationship qualities under more nuanced circumstances—when examining the relative weighting of security versus growth (Studies 1, 4), when security was pitted directly against growth (Studies 2, 3), and when in a vigilant-framed context (Study 3). Although prevention focus did not predict relationship well-being when assessing or manipulating the absolute value of security presence (Study 4, 5), it did when the presence of security was examined in relation to growth (Study 4). This research contributes to relationship science by providing a theoretical framework that integrates rich insights from motivation science to systematically understand how relationship qualities contribute to experiencing relationship success.
Cite this version of the work
Kassandra Cortes (2019). The Role of Regulatory Focus Motivation in Experiencing Relationship Success. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14566