SOCIAL CATALYSTS AND SOCIAL GOAL PURSUIT [thesis]

Amanda L Irions
2020
People pursue goals but do not always successfully attain them. Existing theories of goal pursuit such as field theory and the goals-plans-actions model regard goal pursuit as a solitary activity that results either in success or frustrated failure. In stark contrast to this solitary-actor, sink-or-swim model of goal pursuit are observations from several social domains show that people ask other people to help them reach their goals instead of abandoning their goals entirely. This dissertation
more » ... This dissertation presents the quantitative findings from two studies of these helpers, and argues that analyzing and developing a theory of helpers is critical to a more complete and accurate model of goal pursuit. By introducing the constructs of resource improvement (helpers increase resources, diversify resources, and show their pursuers new paths around obstacles blocking goal pursuit) and the substitutability of helpers' willingness and skills, this dissertation demonstrates the utility of unifying goal-pursuit theories with the social-support framework and situating those ideas in a social context. Study 1 reports an investigation of wingpeople, those offensive and defensive helpers (also called wingmen) who use communication to help people initiate or terminate initial romantic relationships. Key findings include that both offensive and defensive wingpeople use communication to help pursuers move toward a desired potential romantic partner and away from an undesirable one and that, in line with evolutionary psychological predications, wingpeople provided differential help to male and female pursuers. Notably, some participants in Study 1 spontaneously reported being helpers in social domains other than courtship. Study 2 investigated the generalizability of the helping phenomenon across social domains. Key findings include: participants reported being helpers in more than a dozen different social domains (e.g., academic, physical health, creative pursuits, and service) and more than 90% reported helping in domains other than courtshi [...]
doi:10.13016/4ym8-pdy7 fatcat:dvqo6q6msbehtnxwnd7ge3cyqu