Three studies examined the relations of autonomy support and directive support to goal progress over 3 months. Autonomy support was defined in terms of empathic perspective-taking, whereas directive support was defined in terms of the provision of positive guidance. Results from Study 1 revealed that autonomy support between romantic partners was significantly positively related to goal progress over 3 months, and that the beneficial effect of autonomy support was mediated by enhanced autonomous goal motivation. Study 2 involved female friend dyads and extended the goal progress results to include both self-reports and reports by peers. Study 3 showed that autonomy support similarly promoted progress at vicarious goals. Across three studies, autonomy support was also significantly associated with improved relationship quality and subjective well-being. Directive support was marginally associated with better goal progress across the three studies and unrelated to relationship quality or well-being.

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Keywords autonomy support, directive support, goal progress, self-determination theory, well-being
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Journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Koestner, R. (Richard), Powers, T.A. (Theodore A.), Carbonneau, N. (Noémie), Milyavskaya, M, & Chua, S.N. (Sook Ning). (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(12), 1609–1620. doi:10.1177/0146167212457075