Relational consequences of personal goal pursuits

Laura E. VanderDrift, Christopher R. Agnew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Individuals balance tasks necessary to fulfill personal goals and to maintain their interpersonal relationships. In the current studies, we examined the impact of personal goal pursuits on how individuals process and respond to events in their romantic relationships. In 5 experiments, we examined consequences of motivationally active personal goals for relationships. Results indicated that when individuals focused on pursuing a personal goal, they processed relationship information in an evaluatively polarized (Study 1), one-sided (Study 2) fashion. Relative to those deliberating about a personal goal, those focused on a personal goal reported less willingness to engage in some kinds of pro-relationship behaviors (Study 3) and were more likely to forego an opportunity to improve their relationship (Study 4). We attribute this pattern of findings to processing that shielded the personal goal from goal-irrelevant influence (Study 5). These findings provide a greater understanding of how pursuing a personal goal can undermine relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)927-940
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Mindsets
  • Personal goal pursuits
  • Relationship maintenance
  • Romantic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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