Controlled by Love: The Harmful Relational Consequences of Perceived Conditional Positive Regard Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Research on conditional positive regard (CPR) has shown that this seemingly benign practice has maladaptive correlates when used by parents. However, there is no research on the correlates of this practice in romantic relationships or on the processes mediating its effects. Building on self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000), three studies tested the hypothesis that perceived CPR impairs relationship quality, partly because it undermines the fulfillment of the basic psychological needs for autonomy and relatedness. Study 1 (N = 125) examined perceived CPR and relationship quality across four relationship targets: mother, father, romantic partner, and best friend. Study 2, involving romantic partners (N = 142), examined whether needs fulfillment mediated the association between perceived CPR and relationship quality. Study 3, involving romantic dyads (N = 85), also included partner reports on CPR. Across the three studies, CPR was linked with poor relationship quality between relationships, between people, and between dyadic partners. Moreover, results of Study 2 and Study 3 revealed that the inverse association between perceived CPR and relationship quality was mediated by dissatisfaction of autonomy but not relatedness. Despite its seemingly benign nature, CPR is detrimental to relationship quality, partly because it thwarts the basic need for autonomy. 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016