Temporal construal effects on relationship goal pursuit
Buffardi, Laura E.
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To fulfill belongingness (Baumeister & Leary, 1998) and relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 1995) needs, individuals pursue relationship goals. Temporal distance from goals focuses attention on goal-relevant features while decreased temporal distance focuses attention on goal-irrelevant features (Trope & Liberman, 2003). Thus, it was predicted that individuals would approach relationship goals in the distant-future but avoid them in the near-future. Two important relationship goals were examined: (1) bringing up a relationship conflict with one’s partner; and (2) meeting a potential mate. A series of four studies show that as temporal distance decreases: (a) reported likelihood of pursuing hypothetical relationship goals decreases, (b) the preference to pursue self-relevant relationship goal decreases, and (c) perceived desirability and feasibility of relationship goal pursuit decreases. Finally, we show that distant-future relationship goals are cognitively represented by high-level (i.e. goal-relevant) thoughts while near-future relationship goals are represented by low-level (i.e. goal-irrelevant) thoughts.