In 2 daily diary studies, we tested the consequences and precursors of daily goal progress throughout the adult life span. Attachment theory posits that exploration-including the pursuit of autonomous goals-promotes well-being across the life span and is facilitated by support from close others. For both young-adult newlyweds (Study 1) and married couples in late adulthood (Study 2), daily independent goal progress predicted same-day and next-day improvements in psychological, physical, and relational well-being. Specifically, when participants made more progress on their goals than usual on one day, they reported increases in positive affect, sleep quality, and relationship quality, and decreased physical symptoms, the following day (as well as concurrently). Additionally, spousal support (i.e., availability, encouragement, and noninterference) enabled same-day and next-day goal progress. Mediational analyses showed indirect links between spousal support and well-being through goal progress. Some effects were moderated by attachment orientation in the newlywed sample; individuals with greater insecure attachment benefited most from goal progress, and spousal support enabled goal progress most strongly for individuals with less anxious attachment. Overall, these results support and extend attachment theoretical propositions regarding the importance of the exploration system across the adult life span. They contribute to existing literature by demonstrating wide-ranging consequences of successful exploration for well-being and by providing evidence for the importance of both exploration and support for exploration into late adulthood.
- Goal progress
- Social support
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science