This research examined the types of eating regulation goals that women have for themselves as well as for their romantic partner, and how these relate to their interpersonal style toward their partner, and to their partner’s psychological and relational well-being. Participants were 131 heterosexual couples. Results show that the eating regulation goals that women have for their partner (health or appearance oriented) reflect the type of goals that they personally pursue. Furthermore, women who have health-focused eating goals for their partner are perceived as more autonomy-supportive, which is associated with the partner’s report of higher relationship quality. Conversely, women who have appearance-focused eating goals for their partner are more likely to be perceived as controlling, which negatively predicts the partner’s psychological and relational well-being. These results attest to the importance of considering women’s personal eating regulation goals for a better understanding of the type of goals they have for their partners and how these relate to their partners’ well-being and relationship quality.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Since the data collected in this study are from only heterosexual couples, we use language associated with such couples throughout the paper, referring to women and their male partners.
Arbuckle, J. L. (2016). Amos (Version 24.0). Chicago: SPSS.
Arcelus, J., Yates, A., & Whiteley, R. (2012). Romantic relationships, clinical and sub-clinical eating disorders: A review of the literature. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 27, 147–161.
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., & Smollan, D. (1992). Inclusion of other in the self scale and the structure of interpersonal closeness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 596–612.
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., Tudor, M., & Nelson, G. (1991). Close relationships as including other in the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 241–253.
Barber, B. K. (1996). Parental psychological control: Revisiting a neglected construct. Child Development, 67, 3296–3319.
Barber, B. K., & Harmon, E. L. (2002). Violating the self: Parental psychological control of children and adolescents. In B. K. Barber (Ed.), Intrusive parenting: How psychological control affects children and adolescents (pp. 15–52). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Bartholomew, K. J., Ntoumanis, N., & Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C. (2010). The controlling interpersonal style in a coaching context: Development and initial validation of a psychometric scale. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 32, 193–216. doi:10.1123/jsep.32.2.193.
Bentler, P. M. (1989). EQS, structural equations, program manual, program version 3.0. Los Angeles: BMDP Statistical Software, Inc.
Bolger, N., Zuckerman, A., & Kessler, R. C. (2000). Invisible support and adjustment to stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 953.
Carbonneau, N., Carbonneau, E., Cantin, M., & Gagnon-Girouard, M.-P. (2015). Examining women’s perceptions of their mother’s and romantic partner’s interpersonal styles for a better understanding of their eating regulation and intuitive eating. Appetite, 92, 156–166.
Chua, S., Carbonneau, N., Milyavskaya, M., & Koestner, R. (2015). Beyond the self in self-control: The role of relational interdependent self-construal in goal pursuit. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32, 330–343.
Deci, E. L., Eghrari, H., Patrick, B. C., & Leone, D. (1994). Facilitating internalization: The self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality, 62, 119–142.
Deci, E. L., La Guardia, J. G., Moller, A. C., Scheiner, M. J., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). On the benefits of giving as well as receiving autonomy support: Mutuality in close friendships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 313–327.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.
Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Gagné, M., Leone, D. R., Usunov, J., & Kornazheva, B. P. (2001). Need satisfaction, motivation, and well-being in the work organizations of a former eastern bloc country: A cross-cultural study of self-determination. Personality and Psychology Bulletin, 27, 930–942.
Demir, M., Özdemir, M., & Marum, K. P. (2011). Perceived autonomy support, friendship maintenance, and happiness. Journal of Psychology, 145, 537–571.
Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.
Duriez, B. (2011). The social costs of extrinsic relative to intrinsic goal pursuits revisited: The moderating role of general causality orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 684–687.
Emmons, R. A. (1992). Abstract versus concrete goals: Personal striving level, physical illness, and psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 292–300.
Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2003). Motivations for caregiving in adult intimate relationships: Influences on caregiving behavior and relationship functioning. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 950–968.
Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2014). A new look at social support: A theoretical perspective on thriving through relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19(2), 113–147.
Fitzsimons, G. M., Finkel, E. J., & vanDellen, M. R. (2015). Transactive goal dynamics. Psychological Review, 122, 648–673.
Gore, J. S. (2014). The influence of close others in daily goal pursuit. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 31, 71–92.
Gottman, J. M. (1994). What predicts divorce? Hillsdale: Erlbaum.
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.
Grolnick, W. S., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1997). Internalization within the family: The self-determination theory perspective. In J. E. Grusec & L. Kuczynski (Eds.), Parenting and children’s internalization of values: A handbook of contemporary theory (pp. 135–161). New York: Wiley.
Guertin, C., Rocchi, M., Pelletier, L. G., Émond, C., & Lalande, G. (2015). The role of motivation and the regulation of eating on the physical and psychological health of patients with cardiovascular disease. Journal of Health Psychology, 20, 543–555.
Hadden, B. W., Rodriguez, L. M., Knee, C. R., & Porter, B. W. (2015). Relationship autonomy and support provision in romantic relationships. Motivation and Emotion, 39, 359–373. doi:10.1007/s11031-014-9455-9.
Hair, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. (1992). Multivariate Data Analysis: with Readings (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.
Horowitz, L. M., Wilson, K. R., Turan, B., Zolotsev, P., Constantitno, M. J., & Henderson, L. (2006). How interpersonal motives clarify the meaning of interpersonal behavior: A revised circumplex model. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 67–86.
Kappes, H. B., & Shrout, P. E. (2011). When goal sharing produces support that is not caring. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(5), 662–673.
Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1996). Further examining the American dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 280–287.
Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Be careful what you wish for: Optimal functioning and the relative attainment of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. In P. Schmuck & K. Sheldon (Eds.), Life goals and well-being. Gottingen: Hogrefe.
Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Sheldon, K. M. (2004). Materialistic values: Their causes and consequences. In T. Kasser & A. D. Kanner (Eds.), Psychology and consumer culture: The struggle for a good life in a materialistic world (pp. 11–28). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling, 2nd Edn. New York: Guilford.
Koestner, R., Powers, T. A., Carbonneau, N., Milyavskaya, M., & Chua, S. N. (2012). Distinguishing autonomous and directive forms of goal support: Their effects on goal progress, relationship quality, and subjective well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 1609–1620.
La Guardia, J. G., & Ryan, R. M. (2007). Why identities fluctuate: Variability in traits as a function of situational variations in autonomy support. Journal of Personality, 75, 1205–1228.
Macho, S., & Ledermann, T. (2011). Estimating, testing and comparing specific effects in structural equation models: The phantom model approach. Psychological Methods, 16, 34–43.
Mackinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., & Williams, J. (2004). Confidence limits for the indirect effect: Distribution of the product and resampling methods. Multivariate Behavioural Research, 39, 99–128. doi:10.1207/s15327906mbr3901_4.
Mageau, G. A., Bureau, J. S., Ranger, F., Allen, M.-P., & Soenens, B. (2015). The role of parental achievement goals in predicting autonomy-supportive and controlling parenting. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2015, 1–10.
Markey, C. N., Gomel, J. N., & Markey, P. M. (2008). Romantic relationships and eating regulation: An investigation of partners’ attempts to control each others’ eating behaviors. Journal of Health Psychology, 13, 422–432. doi:10.1177/1359105307088145.
Milyavskaya, M., Inzlicht, M., Hope, N., & Koestner, R. (2015). Saying “no” to temptation: Want-to motivation improves self-regulation by reducing temptation rather than by increasing self-control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 677–693.
Milyavskaya, M., & Koestner, R. (2011). Psychological needs, motivation, and well-being: A test of Self-Determination Theory across multiple domains. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 387–391. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.10.029.
Milyavskaya, M., & Nadolny, D. (2016). Pursuit of health goals among American adults: Prevalence, characteristics, and implications. Manuscript under review.
Milyavskaya, M., Philippe, F. L., & Koestner, R. (2013). Psychological need satisfaction across levels of experience: Their organization and contribution to general well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 47, 41–51. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2012.10.013.
Montgomery, D. C., Peck, E. A., & Vining, G. (2007). Introduction to linear regression analysis (4th ed.). New York: Wiley.
Moreau, E., & Mageau, G. A. (2012). The importance of perceived autonomy support for the psychological health and work satisfaction of health professionals. Not only supervisors count, colleagues too! Motivation and Emotion, 36, 268–286.
Niemiec, C. P., Lynch, M. F., Vansteenkiste, M., Bernstein, J., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). The antecedents and consequences of autonomous self-regulation for college: A self-determination theory perspective on socialization. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 761–775.
Norton, R. (1983). Measuring marital quality: A critical look at the dependent variable. Journal of Marriage and Family, 45, 141–151.
Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behaviour Research Methods, 40, 879–891.
Putterman, E., & Linden, W. (2004). Appearance versus health: Does the reason for dieting affect dieting behavior? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 27, 185–204.
Raftery, A. E. (1995). Bayesian model selection in social research. Sociological Methodology, 25, 111–163.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2004). Autonomy is no illusion: Self-determination theory and the empirical study of authenticity, awareness, and will. In J. Greenberg, S. L. Koole & T. Pyszczynski (Eds.), Handbook of experimental existential psychology (pp. 449–479). New York: Guilford.
Schelling, S., Munsch, S., Meyer, A. H., & Margraf, J. (2011). Relationship between motivation for weight loss and dieting and binge eating in a representative population survey. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 44, 39–43.
Schmuck, P., Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The relationship of well-being to intrinsic and extrinsic goals in Germany and the U.S. Social Indicators Research, 50, 225–241.
Sheldon, K. M., Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L., & Kasser, T. (2004). The independent effects of goal contents and motives on well-being: It’s both what you pursue and why you pursue it. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 475–486.
Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422–445.
Silk, J. S., Morris, A. S., Kanaya, T., & Steinberg, L. (2003). Psychological control and autonomy granting: Opposite ends of a continuum or distinct constructs? Journal of Research on Adolescence, 13, 113–128.
Soenens, B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2010). A theoretical upgrade of the concept of parental psychological control: Proposing new insights on the basis of self-determination theory. Developmental Review, 30, 74–99.
Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Luyckx, K., Beyers, W., Goossens, L., & Ryan, R. M. (2007). Conceptualizing parental autonomy support: Adolescent perceptions of promoting independence versus promoting volitional functioning. Developmental Psychology, 43, 633–646.
Soenens, B., Wuyts, D., Vansteenkiste, M., Mageau, G. A., & Brenning, K. (2015). Raising trophy kids: The role of mothers’ contingent self-esteem in maternal promotion of extrinsic goals. Journal of Adolescence, 42, 40–49.
Strong, G., & Aron, A. (2006). The effect of shared participation in novel and challenging activities on experienced relationship quality: Is it mediated by high positive affect? In K. D. Vohs & E. J. Finkel (Eds.), Intrapersonal processes in interpersonal relationships (pp. 342–359). New York: Guilford.
Tucker, J. S., & Anders, S. L. (2001). Social control of health behaviors in marriage. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31, 467–485.
Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Soenens, B., & Matos, L. (2005). Examining the motivational impact of intrinsic versus extrinsic goal framing and autonomy-supportive versus internally controlling communication style on early adolescents’ academic achievement. Child Development, 2, 483–501.
Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., & Lens, W. (2007). Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal promotion in sport and exercise: Understanding their differential impact on performance and persistence. In M. S. Hagger & N. Chatzisarantis (Eds.), Self-Determination Theory in exercise and sport (pp. 167–180). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Verstuyf, J., Patrick, H., Vansteenkiste, M., & Teixeira, P. J. (2012a). Motivational dynamics of eating regulation: A self-determination theory perspective. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9, 1–16. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-21.
Verstuyf, J., Vansteenkiste, M., & Soenens, B. (2012b). Eating regulation and bulimic symptoms: The differential correlates of health-focused and appearance-focused eating regulation. Body Image, 9, 108–117.
Verstuyf, J., Van Petegem, S., Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., & Boone, L. (2014). The body perfect ideal and eating regulation goals: Investigating the role of adolescents’ identity styles. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 284–297.
Wagenmakers, E.-J. (2007). A practical solution to the pervasive problems of p values. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 779–804. doi: 10.3758/BF03194105.
The present study was supported by a grant from the “Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Société et Culture” (FRQSC). The authors express their gratitude to the participants for their involvement in the study.
Conflict of interest
None of the authors have reported any financial or personal conflict of interest to the present manuscript.
About this article
Cite this article
Carbonneau, N., Milyavskaya, M. Your goals or mine? Women’s personal and vicarious eating regulation goals and their partners’ perceptions of support, well-being, and relationship quality. Motiv Emot 41, 465–477 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-017-9623-9
- Eating regulation goals
- Autonomy support
- Controlling interpersonal style