Opposites fit: Regulatory focus complementarity and relationship well-being

Vanessa K. Bohns*, Gale M. Lucas, Daniel C. Molden, Eli J. Finkel, Michael K. Coolsen, Madoka Kumashiro, Caryl E. Rusbult, E. Tory Higgins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Two studies of romantic couples examined the circumstances under which complementary goal-pursuit strategies (specifically, the pairing of a relationship partner who prefers to pursue goals eagerly with a relationship partner who prefers to pursue goals vigilantly) lead to positive relationship outcomes. As hypothesized, couples who reported higher levels of goal congruence (Study 1) or greater self-other overlap (Study 2) benefited from complementary regulatory focus orientations. We suggest that such benefits stem from the advantages provided by the availability of both eager and vigilant strategic preferences, which allow complementary couples to "divide and conquer" goal pursuits as a unit so that both relationship part ners can take on their preferred eager or vigilant strategic role. We further suggest that goal congruence is necessary to capitalize on these proposed advantages of complementary eager or vigilant goal-pursuit strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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