Avoiding the Pitfalls and Approaching the Promises of Close Relationships

Shelly L. Gable and Thery Prok

in The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399820
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Avoiding the Pitfalls and Approaching the Promises of Close Relationships

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People are powerfully motivated to form and maintain social relationships. Indeed, health and well-being are strongly tied to the course and quality of social bonds. However, while close relationships provide people with many advantages such as intimacy and social support, relationships can also be a detriment, such as when they are wrought with hostility and potential rejection. We present a framework of social and relationship motivation that simultaneously accounts for people's tendencies to both approach the incentives and avoid the threats in close relationships. Research examining the correlates of approach and avoidance motives and goals in relationships is reviewed and mediating mechanisms are explored. The implications and advantages of an approach and avoidance model of social motivation are highlighted and future research directions are discussed.

Keywords: close relationships; approach motivation; avoidance motivation; social isolation; loneliness

Article.  9271 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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