How goal instrumentality shapes relationship evaluations.
Findings from 6 experiments support the hypothesis that relationship evaluations and behavioral tendencies are goal dependent, reflecting the instrumentality of significant others for the self's progress toward currently active goals. Experiments 1 and 3 found that active goals can automatically bring to mind significant others who are instrumental for the activated goal, heightening their accessibility relative to noninstrumental others. Experiments 2-5 found that active goals cause individuals to evaluate instrumental others more positively, draw closer to them, and approach them more readily, compared with noninstrumental others. Experiment 6 found that people who engage in goal-dependent interpersonal evaluations are more successful, receiving higher grades. Implications for understanding the social nature of self-regulation and the impact of personal goals on interpersonal relationships are discussed.
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