Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 874–882 | Cite as

Examining the associations of autonomy and directive support given and received with relationship satisfaction in the context of goals that romantic partners have for one another

  • Noémie CarbonneauEmail author
  • Tamas Martos
  • Viola Sallay
  • Samuel Rochette
  • Richard Koestner
Original Paper


Previous research has shown unique benefits associated with both providing and receiving autonomy-support among same-sex friends (Deci et al. 2006). The present research examined the provision and receipt of two types of goal support from the viewpoints of the two partners in heterosexual couples (n = 247 Hungarian couples). The level of autonomy and directive support that each partner delivered and received in relation to vicarious goals (i.e., goals that partners have for one another) was assessed. Autonomy support from the partner was found to be consistently and positively associated with relationship satisfaction, and this pattern of results was found whether we considered perceived autonomy support from the partner or actual partner report of support given. In addition, providing autonomy support to one’s partner was found to positively relate to relationship satisfaction over and above the effects of receiving support. Overall, directive support was found to be either unrelated or negatively related to relationship satisfaction, suggesting that it can actually backfire and impair satisfaction. Overall, results underscore the relational benefits of supporting vicarious goals in an autonomous rather than directive manner. These findings have implications regarding the pursuit of goals in the context of romantic relationships.


Goal support Vicarious goals Autonomy support Directive support Relationship satisfaction Romantic relationships 



This study was funded by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA; Grant No. PD 105685) and by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec—Société et Culture (FRQSC; Grant No. 179720).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors has any conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université du Québec à Trois-RivièresTrois-RivièresCanada
  2. 2.University of SzegedSzegedHungary
  3. 3.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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