Changing Relationship Growth Belief: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Consequences of Compassionate Goals

Pers Relatsh. 2011 Sep 1;18(3):370-391. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01296.x.


The belief that difficulties can lead to growth in relationships, or growth belief, has consequences for relationships (e.g., Knee, 1998). But what predicts change in this belief? We hypothesized that compassionate goals to support others (Crocker & Canevello, 2008) predict increased growth belief through increased need satisfaction. In Study 1, 199 college freshmen reported their friendship growth belief and goals. In Study 2, 65 roommate pairs reported their roommate growth belief, goals, and need satisfaction. Across studies, compassionate goals predicted increased growth belief. In Study 2, goals predicted increased perceived mutual need satisfaction, which predicted increased growth belief. Additionally, partners' compassionate goals predicted actors' increased growth belief. Results suggest that growth beliefs are shaped by goals - own and others'.