Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 743–757 | Cite as

On the role of harmonious and obsessive romantic passion in conflict behavior

  • Noémie Carbonneau
  • Robert J. Vallerand
Original Paper


Using the dualistic model of passion (Vallerand et al. in J Pers Soc Psychol 85:756–767, 2003), the present research examined the role of harmonious and obsessive romantic passion in individuals’ engagement in destructive behavior during conflict and in reparative behaviors following conflict with one’s partner. Results revealed that harmonious and obsessive passion were respectively negatively and positively related to engagement in destructive conflict behavior. In addition, harmonious passion was positively related to reparative behaviors following conflict while obsessive passion was not significantly related to this outcome. Importantly, these results held whether data were obtained by asking participants to recall about how things typically happen when they experience conflict with their partner (Study 1) or whether diary data were averaged across days when conflict actually happened (Study 2). Results underscore the importance of distinguishing harmonious from obsessive romantic passion.


Romantic passion Conflict behavior Dualistic model of passion 



The research was facilitated by Grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and by the Fonds de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC) to the second author and by a SSHRC Fellowship to the first author.


  1. Alvaro, J. A. (2001). An interpersonal forgiveness and reconciliation intervention: The effect on marital intimacy. Dissertation Abstracts International 3-B, 62, 1608.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., Smart, L., & Boden, J. (1996). Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of self-esteem. Psychological Review, 103, 5–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bélanger, J. J., Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Vallerand, R. J., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2013a). Driven by fear: The effect of success and failure information on passionate individuals’ performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 180-195.Google Scholar
  4. Bélanger, J. J., Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Vallerand R. J., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2013b). When passion makes the heart grow colder: The role of passion in alternative goal-suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 126-147.Google Scholar
  5. Bentler, P. M. (1993). EQS: Structural equation program manual. Los Angeles: BMDP Statistical Software.Google Scholar
  6. Bollen, K. A. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Canary, D. J., Cupach, W. R., & Messman, S. J. (1995). The nature of conflict in close relationships. In D. J. Canary, W. R. Cupach, & S. J. Messman (Eds.), Relationship conflict (pp. 1–21). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Carbonneau, N., Vallerand, R. J., Fernet, C., & Guay, F. (2008). The role of passion for teaching in intra and interpersonal outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 977–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Castelda, B. A., Mattson, R. E., MacKillop, J., Anderson, E. J., & Donovick, P. J. (2007). Psychometric validation of the gambling passion scale (GPS) in an English-speaking university sample. International Gambling Studies, 7, 173–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and the “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Donahue, E. G., Rip, B., & Vallerand, R. J. (2009). When winning is everything: On passion and aggression in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10, 526–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fincham, F. D. (2003). Marital conflict: Correlates, structure and context. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 23–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fincham, F. D., & Beach, S. R. (1999). Marital conflict: Implications for working with couples. Annual Review of Psychology, 50, 47–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fincham, F. D., Beach, S. R. H., & Davila, J. (2004). Forgiveness and conflict resolution in marriage. Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 72–81.Google Scholar
  16. Forest, J., Mageau, G. A., Sarrazin, C., & Morin, E. M. (2011). “Work is my passion”: The different affective, behavioural, and cognitive consequences of harmonious and obsessive passion toward work. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 28, 27–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gager, C. T., & Sanchez, L. (2003). Two as one? Couples’ perceptions of time spent together, marital quality, and the risk of divorce. Journal of Family Issues, 24(1), 21–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gottman, J. M. (1993). A theory of marital dissolution and stability. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 57–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gottman, J. M. (1994). What predicts divorce? The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  20. Gottman, J. M. (1998). Psychology and the study of marital processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 169–197.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gottman, J. M., & Krokoff, L. J. (1989). The relationship between marital interaction and marital satisfaction: A longitudinal view. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 47–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (1992). Marital processes predictive of later dissolution: Behavior, physiology and health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 221–233.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Three Rivers Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (1990). Passionate love in intimate relationships. In B. S. Moore & A. M. Isen (Eds.), Affect in social behavior (pp. 126–151). New York, NY: Cambridge Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (1993). Love and attachment processes. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 595–604). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  26. Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (1986). Measuring passionate love in intimate relationships. Journal of Adolescence, 9, 383–410.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (2010). The passionate love scale. In T. D. Fisher, C. M. Davis, W. L. Yaber, & S. L. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of sexuality-related measures: A compendium (3rd ed., pp. 469–472). Thousand Oaks, CA: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  28. Hatfield, E., & Walster, G. W. (1978). A new look at love. Lantham, MA: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  29. Hirschberger, G., Srivastava, S., Marsh, P., Cowan, C. P., & Cowan, P. A. (2009). Attachment, marital satisfaction, and divorce during the first fifteen years of parenthood. Personal Relationships, 16, 401–420.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hodgins, H. S., & Knee, R. (2002). The integrating self and conscious experience. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook on self-determination research: Theoretical and applied issues (pp. 87–100). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hojjat, M. (2000). Sex differences and perceptions of conflict in romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 598–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jehn, K. A. (1995). A multimethod examination of the benefits and detriments of intragroup conflict. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 256–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jones, T. S., & Remland, M. S. (1993). Nonverbal communication and conflict escalation: An attribution-based model. International Journal of Conflict Management, 4, 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Joreskog, K. G. (1973). A general method for estimating a linear structural equation system. In A. S. Goldberger & O. D. Duncan (Eds.), Structural equation models in the social sciences (pp. 85–112). New York: Seminar Press.Google Scholar
  35. Kerig, P. K. (1996). Assessing the links between interparental conflict and child adjustment: The conflicts and problem-solving scales. Journal of Family Psychology, 10, 454–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  37. Kurdek, L. A. (1995). Predicting change in marital satisfaction from husbands’ and wives’ conflict resolution styles. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 153–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Jowett, S., Vallerand, R. J., Donahue, E. G., & Lorimer, R. (2008). Passion in sport: On the quality of the coach-athlete relationship. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 30, 541–560.Google Scholar
  39. Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Vallerand, R. J., Donahue, E. G., & Lavigne, G. L. (2009). On the costs and benefits of gaming: The role of passion. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12, 285–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Vallerand, R. J., & Sedikides, C. (in press). On the relation between self-enhancement and life satisfaction: The moderating role of passion. Self and Identity. Google Scholar
  41. Laurenceau, J. P., Feldman Barrett, L., & Pietromonaco, P. R. (1998). Intimacy as an interpersonal process: The importance of self-disclosure, partner disclosure, and perceived partner responsiveness in interpersonal exchanges. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1238–1251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Laurenceau, J. P., Rivera, L. M., Schaffer, A. R., & Pietromonaco, P. R. (2004). Intimacy as an interpersonal process: Current status and future directions. In D. Mashek & A. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  43. Laursen, B., & Hafen, C. A. (2010). Future directions in the study of close relationships: Conflict is bad (except when it’s not). Social Development, 19, 858–872.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lloyd, S. A., & Emery, B. C. (1994). Physically aggressive conflict in romantic relationships. In D. D. Cahn (Ed.), Conflict in personal relationships (pp. 27–46). Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  45. MacKillop, J., Anderson, E. J., Castelda, B. A., Mattson, R. E., & Donovick, P. J. (2006). Divergent validity of measures of cognitive distortions, impulsivity, and time perspective in pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 22, 339–354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mageau, G. A., Carpentier, J., & Vallerand, R. J. (2011). The role of self-esteem contingencies in the distinction between obsessive and harmonious passion. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mageau, G. A., Vallerand, R. J., Rousseau, F. L., Ratelle, C. F., & Provencher, P. J. (2005). Passion and gambling: Investigating the divergent affective and cognitive consequences of gambling. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 100–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Marshall, L. (1994). Physical and psychological abuse. In W. R. Cupach & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds.), The dark side of interpersonal communication. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  49. McCullough, M. E., Rachal, K. C., Sandage, S. J., Worthington, E. L., Jr, Brown, S. W., & Hight, T. L. (1998). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships: II. Theoretical elaboration and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1586–1603.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Murray, S. L., & Holmes, J. G. (1997). A leap of faith? Positive illusions in romantic relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 586–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ohly, S., Sonnentag, S., Niessen, C., & Zapf, D. (2010). Diary studies in organizational research: An introduction and some practical recommendations. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 9, 79−93.Google Scholar
  52. Perry, D. G., Perry, L. C., & Kennedy, E. (1992). Conflict and the development of antisocial behavior. In C. U. Shantz & W. W. Hartup (Eds.), Conflict in child and adolescent development (pp. 301–329). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Philippe, F., Vallerand, R. J., Houlfort, N., Lavigne, G. L., & Donahue, E. G. (2010). Passion for an activity and quality of interpersonal relationships: The mediating role of emotions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 917–932.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Philippe, F., Vallerand, R. J., & Lavigne, G. (2009a). Passion makes a difference in people’s lives: A look at well-being in passionate and non-passionate individuals. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 1, 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Philippe, F., Vallerand, R. J., Richer, R. J., Vallières, E., & Bergeron, J. (2009b). Passion for driving and aggressive driving behavior: A look at their relationship. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 3020–3043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pietromonaco, P. R., Greenwood, D., & Feldman Barrett, L. (2004). Conflict in adult close relationships: An attachment perspective. In W. S. Rholes & J. A. Simpson (Eds.), Adult attachment: New directions and emerging issues (pp. 267–299). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  57. Ratelle, C. F. (2002). Une nouvelle conceptualisation de la passion amoureuse. [A new conceptualization of romantic passion]. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Quebec in Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.Google Scholar
  58. Ratelle, C. F., Carbonneau, N., Vallerand, R. J., & Mageau, G. A. (2013). Passion in the romantic sphere: A look at relational outcomes. Motivation and Emotion, 37, 106-120.Google Scholar
  59. Ratelle, C. F., Vallerand, R. J., Mageau, G. A., Rousseau, F. L., & Provencher, P. (2004). When passion leads to problematic outcomes: A look at gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 20, 105–119.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Reis, H. T., & Gable, S. L. (2000). Event-sampling and other methods for studying everyday experience. In H. T. Reis & C. M. Judd (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in social and personality psychology (pp. 190–222). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Rip, B., Fortin, S., & Vallerand, R. J. (2006). The relationship between passion and injury in dance students. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 10, 14–20.Google Scholar
  62. Rip, B., Vallerand, R. J., & Lafrenière, M.-A. K. (2012). Passion for a cause, passion for a creed: On ideological passion, identity threat, and extremism. Journal of Personality, 80, 573–602.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rousseau, F. L., & Vallerand, R. J. (2003). Le rôle de la passion dans le bien-être subjectif des aînés [The role of passion in the subjective well-being of elderly individuals]. Revue Québécoise de Psychologie, 24, 197–211.Google Scholar
  64. Rousseau, F. L., & Vallerand, R. J. (2008). An examination of the relationship between passion and subjective well-being in older adults. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 66, 195–211.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rousseau, F. L., Vallerand, R. J., Ratelle, C. F., Mageau, G. A., & Provencher, P. J. (2002). Passion and gambling: On the validation of the gambling passion scale (GPS). Journal of Gambling Studies, 18, 45–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2003). On assimilating identities to the self: A self-determination theory perspective on internalization and integrity within cultures. In M. R. Leary & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook on self & identity (pp. 253–274). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  67. Salvatore, J., Kuo, S. I., Steele, R. D., Simpson, J. A., & Collins, W. A. (2011). Recovering from conflict in romantic relationships: A developmental perspective. Psychological Science, 22, 376–383.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sanderson, C. A., & Karetsky, K. H. (2002). Intimacy goals and strategies of conflict resolution in dating relationships: A mediational analysis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 323–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Séguin-Lévesque, C., Laliberté, M.-L., Pelletier, L. G., Blanchard, C., & Vallerand, R. J. (2003). Harmonious and obsessive passion for the internet: Their associations with the couple’s relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 197–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Spanier, G. B. (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 15–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Stenseng, F. (2008). The two faces of leisure activity engagement: Harmonious and obsessive passion in relation to intrapersonal conflict and life domain outcomes. Leisure Sciences, 30, 465–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Stephan, Y., Deroche, T., Brewer, B. W., Caudroit, J., & Le Scanff, C. (2009). Predictors of perceived susceptibility to sport-related injury among competitive runners: The role of previous experience, neuroticism, and passion for running. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 58, 672–687.Google Scholar
  73. Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93, 119–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Sternberg, R. J. (1988). Triangulating love. In R. J. Sternberg & M. L. Barnes (Eds.), The psychology of love (pp. 119–138). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Sternberg, R. J. (1997). Construct validation of a triangular love scale. European Journal of Social Psychology, 27, 313–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Tosun, L. P., & Lajunen, T. (2009). Why do young adults develop a passion for Internet activities? The associations among personality, revealing « true self » on the Internet, and passion for the Internet. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12, 401–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Trautwein, U., Lüdtke, O., Roberts, B. W., Schnyder, I., & Niggli, A. (2009). Different forces, same consequence: Conscientiousness and competence beliefs are independent predictors of academic effort and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 1115–1128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Tsang, J., McCullough, M., & Fincham, F. D. (2006). Forgiveness and the psychological dimension of reconciliation: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25, 404–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Vallerand, R. J. (1997). Toward a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Advances in Experimental and Social Psychology, 29, 271–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Vallerand, R. J. (2008). On the psychology of passion: In search of what makes people’s lives most worth living. Canadian Psychology, 49, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Vallerand, R. J. (2010). On passion for life activities: The dualistic model of passion. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 42, pp. 97–193). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  82. Vallerand, R. J., Blanchard, C. M., Mageau, G. A., Koestner, R., Ratelle, C. F., Léonard, M., et al. (2003). Les passions de l’âme: On obsessive and harmonious passion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 756–767.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Vallerand, R. J., Fortier, M. S., & Guay, F. (1997). Self-determination and persistence in a real-life setting: Toward a motivational model of high school dropout. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1161–1176.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Vallerand, R. J., & Houlfort, N. (2003). Passion at work: Toward a new conceptualization. In S. W. Gilliland, D. D. Steiner, & D. P. Skarlicki (Eds.), Emerging perspectives on values in organizations (pp. 175–204). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  85. Vallerand, R. J., Mageau, G. A., Elliot, A. J., Dumais, A., Demers, M.-A., & Rousseau, F. L. (2008a). Passion and performance attainment in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9, 373–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Vallerand, R. J., Ntoumanis, N., Philippe, F., Lavigne, G. L., Carbonneau, N., Bonneville, A., et al. (2008b). On passion and sports fans: A look at football. Journal of Sport Sciences, 26, 1279–1293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Vallerand, R. J., Rousseau, F. L., Grouzet, F. M. E., Dumais, A., & Grenier, S. (2006). Passion in sport: A look at determinants and affective experiences. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 28, 454–478.Google Scholar
  88. Vallerand, R. J., Salvy, S. J., Mageau, G. A., Elliot, A. J., Denis, P., Grouzet, F. M. E., et al. (2007). On the role of passion in performance. Journal of Personality, 75, 505–534.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Wang, C. C., & Chu, Y. S. (2007). Harmonious passion and obsessive passion in playing online games. Social Behavior and Personality, 35, 997–1006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Wang, C. C., & Yang, H. W. (2007). Passion and dependency in online shopping activities. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10, 296–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Comportement SocialUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations