Are all acts of kindness created equally? Understanding relationship maintenance behaviors from a motivational perspective
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A model is proposed to explain how situation specific goals for engaging in relationship maintenance behaviors influence relationship evaluations. It is proposed that relationship maintenance behaviors motivated by avoidance goals lead to less positive relationship evaluations than behaviors motivated by approach goals. It is also proposed that high concerns with fairness in exchange mediate the association between avoidance goals and less positive relationship evaluations. In contrast, low exchange concerns mediate the association between approach goals and positive relationship evaluations. In two experiments participants’ goals for engaging in relationship maintenance behaviors were manipulated. In Experiment 1 the activation of avoidance goals for engaging in relationship maintenance behaviors lead to increased exchange concerns. Unexpectedly, in Experiment 2 the activation of approach goals lead to greater exchange concerns. In Experiment 2, no association was found between the activation of approach and avoidance goals and relationship evaluations. Unexpectedly, gender moderated the effects in both studies, such that the contradictory findings were observed only among men. Directions for future research are discussed.