Relationship Affirmation, Self-Esteem, and Important Goal Pursuit in Adolescence

McGranahan, Rose. 2017. Relationship Affirmation, Self-Esteem, and Important Goal Pursuit in Adolescence. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The pursuit of an ideal self and related goals is a constant throughout the lifespan, and a great deal of motivation and self-regulation is required in order to move closer to this ideal. For adolescents in particular, the ability to harness enough motivation to pursue important goals can be a struggle. The current thesis examined the ways in which having close affirming relationships may enhance young people’s ability to pursue their goals, and move closer to their ideal selves. An established inter-personal model of motivation, the Michelangelo Phenomenon, was used as a backdrop for a series of four empirical studies, each building on the previous to further clarify the contributions self-esteem and relationship affirmation make to goal pursuit. The first study extended the concept of relationship affirmation for use in relationships other than romantic couples, to determine whether all forms of affirming relationships could be beneficial to goal pursuit and movement towards the ideal self. This being the case, along with relationship affirmation mediating the positive relation between self-esteem and goal pursuit motivation, the next study extended this further by applying the theory to adolescents undertaking their last years of school. A three time-point school-based study was carried out, testing the mediation hypothesis in adolescents from four Greater London schools. Three empirical chapters describe findings from this study, with Chapters 3 and 4 examining the first time points cross-sectionally, and Chapter 5 analysing the first and last time points longitudinally. The findings revealed relationship affirmation to be a strong predictor of motivation to pursue ideal-relevant goals, and of life satisfaction. The mediation model was supported for the most part, although the pattern was not found longitudinally. The findings reveal the central importance of social support, and particularly the presence of affirming relationships, to enable adolescents to pursue important goals.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


relationship affirmation, self-esteem, relationships, adolescence, goal pursuit, goals, motivation, academic achievement, well-being

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 April 2017

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Date Deposited:

30 May 2017 09:50

Last Modified:

14 Sep 2022 09:16


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