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The Effects of Self-Regulatory Strength, Content, and Strategies on Close Relationships


  • The preparation of this commentary was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. 719780). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
  • Note: Corrections added on 6 January 2012 after first publication online on 19 October 2011: The page number for this article should be Page 1251–1279 (not 949–977), and have been corrected in the online version of this article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Laura B. Luchies, Redeemer University College, 777 Garner Road East, Ancaster, ON L9K 1J4, Canada. Email:


This article reviews the growing literature on the effects of self-regulatory strength (how much self-regulatory ability people have), self-regulatory content (the goals toward which people self-regulate), and self-regulatory strategies (the manner in which people self-regulate) on close relationships. The extant literature indicates that close relationships benefit when relationship partners (a) have greater versus less self-regulatory strength, (b) prioritize relationship-promotion goals versus self-protection goals, (c) facilitate versus obstruct each other's personal goal pursuits, (d) enact positive relationship behaviors using approach versus avoidance strategies, and (e) pursue shared goals using complementary versus similar regulatory focus strategies. Future research could fruitfully (a) delve deeper into the influences of self-regulatory content and strategies on relationships and (b) integrate multiple lines of research examining the effects of self-regulation on relationships.

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