Predicting the Pursuit and Support of Challenging Life Opportunities

Brooke C. Feeney, Meredith Van Vleet, Brittany K. Jakubiak, Jennifer M. Tomlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Deciding to embrace challenging opportunities may present one life context through which individuals may thrive, and these decisions may be influenced by one’s significant relationships. Married couples were unobtrusively videotaped as one couple-member was presented with a challenging opportunity and decided whether to accept it. We assessed interpersonal predictors of the decision to accept or forgo the opportunity, predictors of the spouse’s support during decision-making, and follow-up thriving outcomes 6 months later. Results indicated that specific support behaviors enacted by the spouse—relational catalyst (RC) support provision—encouraged decision-makers to accept the challenge and that this decision predicted long-term thriving outcomes for the decision-maker. Results also indicated that the spouse’s support behavior was influenced by both chronic and experimentally manipulated motivations for providing support, and these motives provide pathways by which relationship satisfaction and attachment security predict the provision of RC support. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1171-1187
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • challenging life opportunities
  • motivation
  • relational catalyst
  • social support
  • thriving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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