Past research (Fitzsimons & Finkel, 2011) has found that when people’s romantic partners are instrumental to their pursuit of personal goals, they report decreases in their planned goal-related effort. The current study extended these findings by examining the effects of romantic partners’ instrumentality on actual effort toward goals and goal progress over time. We also examined the role of relationship satisfaction in the association between instrumentality and effort and progress. We predicted that partner instrumentality would decrease goal effort and have positive impacts on goal progress over time, but only for people with high relationship satisfaction. Seventy-eight couples completed questionnaires on relationship satisfaction, their romantic partner’s instrumentality to their goals, goal effort, and goal progress at 2 time points, 3 months apart. To analyze the data, we used a 3-level multilevel model. We found that partner instrumentality at Time 1 was not related to changes in goal effort, but was related to changes in goal progress across time, such that higher partner instrumentality was related to more progress. However, the relation between instrumentality and goal progress depended on relationship satisfaction, such that higher relationship satisfaction was related to greater increases in progress over time. Although we did not find that partner instrumentality decreases goal-related effort, we found that it predicts increases in goal-related progress across time, especially for individuals with higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Therefore, having a romantic partner who is instrumental, making it easier to pursue a given goal will result in more goal progress.
Dr. Judith Gere
This study examined the effects of partner instrumentality on goal effort and progress over time. We examined whether the association between partner instrumentality and goal progress and effort depended on people's satisfaction with their relationship. We predicted that partner instrumentality would decrease effort and have positive impacts on progress for those with high relationship satisfaction. Seventy-eight couples completed questionnaires on relationship satisfaction, partner instrumentality, effort, and progress two times, three months apart. We found that partner instrumentality wasn’t related to changes in effort, but was related to changes in progress, such that higher partner instrumentality was related to more progress. The relation between instrumentality and progress depended on relationship satisfaction, such that higher satisfaction was related to more progress.