Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Social Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Justin Cavallo

Advisor Role



Relationship research has long emphasized the importance of felt security for interpersonal wellbeing, but has focused less on how opportunities for growth influence relationship well-being. The present research investigates whether people’s motivational states may influence the extent to which people value growth in their romantic relationships. Drawing on regulatory focus theory, which distinguishes between promotion (concerned with advancement) and prevention (concerned with security) self-regulatory orientations, it was hypothesized that promotion-focused individuals would be more satisfied with relationships that offered greater opportunity for growth than with those that offered greater opportunity for security. In three experimental studies, participants evaluated others’ (Study 1; N = 110) and their own (Study 2; N =141 and 3: N = 103) relationships after we manipulated beliefs about whether those relationships had high or low potential for future growth. Results revealed that promotion-focused participants rated theirs and another person’s relationship more positively when the relationship portrayed high growth potential rather than when it portrayed low growth potential. These results have meaningful implications for marriage courses and in clinical settings for defense against reinforcement erosion.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season