Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Social Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Justin V. Cavallo

Advisor Role

Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University


According to regulatory focus theory, promotion-focused people should experience stronger engagement toward goals which are framed as leading to advancement. However, because situations can afford or constrain people’s regulatory preference, the present research investigates how promotion-focused individuals’ preference for change and advancement may be altered by the affordances offered by the broader contextual environment (i.e., their romantic relationship). I hypothesized that among participants in romantic relationships, those with a promotion focus (chronic or induced) would engage less in relationship goals when they reflected on how completing these goals would positively change their romantic relationship from its current state, compared to relationship goals that would maintain their relationship at its current state. However, I expected this to emerge only among participants low in relational commitment, as this context affords less opportunity for change-related goals to ultimately engender positive outcomes. In three experimental studies, participants nominated a relationship goal they were pursuing because it would lead to either relationship change (i.e., growth) or stability (Study 1; N = 192) or they nominated an important relationship goal that was later framed as leading to future relationship change or stability (Study 2; N = 336, and Study 3; N = 199), and their willingness to engage in their goal was then measured. Results supported the hypothesis and suggest that when the broader context of goal pursuit does not facilitate one’s chronic regulatory aims (i.e., to achieve gains and avoid non-gains), then promotion-focused people downregulate their goal engagement despite the inherent motivational appeal of the goal itself.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season