Motivated Behavior in Intimate Relationships: Comparing the Predictive Value of Motivational Variables


  • Caroline Zygar-Hoffmann Orcid
  • Sebastian Pusch Orcid
  • Birk Hagemeyer
  • Felix D. Schönbrodt Orcid


Motivational variables are considered fundamental factors influencing the occurrence of behavior. The current study compared different types of motivational variables (implicit and explicit motive dispositions, motivation as states and as aggregated person-level variables) in their ability to predict communal and agentic behavior reports in intimate relationships. 510 individuals completed measures of dispositional communion and agency motives and participated in a dyadic experience sampling study with five assessments per day across four weeks. They reported on their momentary communal and agentic motivation, as well as on their own and their partner’s behaviors. All examined types of motivational variables predicted certain behavior reports on the between-person or within-person level and had incremental effects beyond the other motivational variables in at least one motive domain. Directly replicating and conceptually extending prior research, the effects of motivational states and their aggregates were consistently found across behavioral outcomes, across self- and partner-reports and across the motive domains of communion and agency. Using the example of motivational states, the general value of assessing within-person variables for psychological phenomena in ESM-designs is discussed.