Multiple goals theories: Motivations for family interactions and relationships

Steven R. Wilson, John Patrick Caughlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we discuss three specific multiple goal theories that offer insights about family communication: (a) Dillard's Goals-Plans-Action model, Caughlin's Multiple Goals Theory of Personal Relationships, and Goldsmith's Normative Theory. Although these theories were created to answer broader questions about communication, they have special relevance to families for two reasons. First, family members are interdependent, and hence often can facilitate and/or interfere with one another's goals. Second, family members sometimes adopt one another's goals as their own—in ways that may be helpful (e.g., when an individual diagnosed with cancer asks his/her spouse to share health updates with their larger network) or dysfunctional (e.g., when "helicopter parents" define their own success based on their children's goals). In addition to highlighting how perceived goals shape the meaning of messages, the Multiple Goals Theory of Personal Relationships (MGPR) notes that this particular encounter occurs within a history of encounters between the mother and daughter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEngaging Theories in Family Communication
Subtitle of host publicationMultiple Perspectives
EditorsDawn O Braithwaite, Elizabeth A Suter, Kory Floyd
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781351790680
ISBN (Print)9781138700932
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple goals theories: Motivations for family interactions and relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this