Week three goal selection psy/220 use the info from the ebook


Goal Selection

Using the information presented in Ch. 7, explain the matching hypothesis. Give an example of a well-matched and a poorly-matched goal that you have pursued in your own life. Discuss the relationship between goal selection and well-being. 


Post a 200- to 300-word response.





Goals Connect “Having” and “Doing”
What are Personal Goals?
Defining Personal Goals
Goals and Related Motivational Concepts
Measuring Personal Goals
Goal Organization
The Search for Universal Human Motives
Goals and the Fulfillment of Basic Human Needs
Focus on Research: An Empirical Method for Assessing Universal Needs
Goals Expressing Fundamental Values
Personal Goals Across Cultures
Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Goals
Physical versus Self-Transcendent Goals
The Personalization of Goals in Self-Concept
What Goals Contribute Most to Well-Being?
Goal Progress, Achievement, and Importance
The Matching Hypothesis
What Explains the Matching Hypothesis?
Personal Goals and Self-Realization
Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Goals
Autonomous versus Controlled Motivation
Focus on Research: Happiness and Success in College
Materialism and Its Discontents
Why Are Materialists Unhappy?
The Content of Materialistic Goals
The What and Why of Materialistic Goals
Compensation for Insecurity
Why Do People Adopt Materialistic Values?
Consumer Culture
Psychological Insecurity
Materialism and Death
Affluence and Materialism
Are We All Materialists?
Personal Goals as Windows
to Well-Being
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126 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
Goals are central to an understanding of
human behavior because they energize
action and provide meaning, direction, and
purpose to life activities. Goals help explain the
“whys” of action—that is, what people are trying to
accomplish. Nearly all behavior has a purpose,
whether it’s washing dishes, having fun with
friends, looking for a job, or planning a vacation.
Goals explain and make sense of our actions by
providing reasons for their occurrence. Whatever
our behavior, if someone asks, “What are you
doing?” we typically respond by describing the purpose
of our actions in terms of a desired outcome
(i.e., achieving a goal). Goals also make our lives
coherent by establishing connections between specific
short-term and more general long-term purposes
and desires. For example, if you are a college
student reading this book for a class on positive
psychology, your specific purpose is to understand
the material in this chapter. This specific goal is
probably part of a larger goal of doing well in the
class; which is a sub-goal of meeting the requirements
to graduate from college; which relates to the
more general goal of getting a good job; which may
relate to an even more encompassing goal of having
a satisfying life. In short, our behavior during a
day, a week, a year, or a lifetime would not make
much sense without an understanding of the goals
we are striving to achieve.
Robert Emmons (2003) describes personal goals
as “the well-springs of a positive life” (p. 105). In
other words, the goals we pursue are intimately connected
to our happiness and well-being. The importance
of goals is clearly evident in cases where
people do not have reasonably clear, personally
meaningful, and attainable goals. Both goal conflict
and unrealistic goals have consistently been linked
to lower well-being and higher distress (Austin
& Vancouver, 1996; Cantor & Sanderson, 1999;
Emmons, 1999b; Karolyi, 1999; Lent, 2004). For
example, Emmons and King (1988) found that conflict
and ambivalence about personal goals were
related to higher levels of negative affect, depressed
mood, neuroticism, and physical illness. Even though
people spent a good deal of time ruminating about
their conflicting goals, this did not lead to action
aimed at resolution. Instead, conflict tended to immobilize
action and was associated with decreased subjective
well-being (SWB).
A further example of the relation between
goals and personal distress is shown in the link
between unrealistic standards for self-evaluation and
clinical depression. Perfectionists, for example, are at
higher risk for both depression and suicide because
of the self-blame, low self-worth, and chronic sense
of failure that result from their inability to meet unrealistic
expectations (Baumeister, 1990; Blatt, 1995;
Karolyi, 1999). These expectations may be selfimposed
through a belief that one must be flawless,
or socially imposed through a belief that significant
others have expectations and demands that are difficult
or impossible to achieve. The chronic inability to
satisfy individual standards for self-approval and to
meet the perceived expectations of others to gain
social approval can cause severe distress. Prolonged
distress may lead to what Baumeister (1990) called
the “escape from self”—namely, suicide.
On the positive side, attaining personally significant
goals, pursuing meaningful aspirations, and
involving oneself in valued activities all contribute
to enhanced happiness and well-being (Cantor &
Sanderson, 1999; Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999;
Emmons, 1999b; Emmons & King, 1988; Lent, 2004).
Personal goals play a pivotal role in individual wellbeing
because they are the basis for activities that
bring happiness and meaning to life. Engagement in
meaningful life tasks makes a significant and independent
contribution to well-being. For example, in
a study of over 600 older adults, involvement in
social and community activities was related to
higher levels of life satisfaction, even after controlling
for personal resources such as health, social
support, congeniality, and prior levels of satisfaction
(Harlow & Cantor, 1996). In other words, participation
in social activities increased well-being above
and beyond the effects of personal resources.
In addition to their independent contribution, goals
may also determine the extent to which personal
resources influence well-being. Cantor and
Sanderson (1999) note that goals help connect the
“having” side to the “doing” side of life (see also
Cantor, 1990). This traditional distinction (first made
by personality theorist Gordon Allport in 1937) captures
the importance of “having” personal resources
such as social skills, an optimistic attitude, and supportive
friends, as well as the importance of “doing,”
in the form of developing meaningful goals and
pursuing personally significant life activities. That is,
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 127
both resources (material and personal) and commitment
to goals have an important connection to wellbeing.
This connection is exemplified in a study of
resources and personal strivings among college students
(Diener & Fujita, 1995).
These researchers found that the effect of
resources on well-being depended on their congruence
with personal goals. Resources measured in the
study included skills and abilities (like intelligence
and social skills), personal traits (being energetic and
outgoing), social support (close ties with family members
and friends), and material resources (money and
possessions). Goals were assessed through students’
descriptions of 15 personal strivings (defined as “the
things they were typically trying to do in their everyday
behavior”) (Diener & Fujita, p. 929). Students
rated the relevance of each resource to each personal
striving, and also provided ratings on measures of
global SWB and experience-sampling measures of
daily mood. The critical factor determining the effects
of resources on SWB was the degree of congruence
between resources and personal strivings. Having
resources that facilitated achieving personal goals
was related to higher SWB, while a lack of goalrelated
resources was associated with relatively lower
levels of well-being. That is, it did not matter how
many resources a student had. What mattered was
whether those resources supported the goals they
were trying to accomplish.
Diener and Fujita describe two case studies
to make this goal–resource relationship concrete.
One young woman in the study had strong personal
resources in the area of intelligence and
self-discipline for work. However, she rated these
resources as largely unrelated to her goals. She perceived
self-confidence and support from family
members and friends as much more relevant.
Unfortunately, she was not strong in these areas. In
short, her personal resources did not match and
support her personal goals. Her level of well-being
was extremely low—three standard deviations
below the mean for students in the study. A second
woman in the study had strong resources in the area
of support from friends and family members, and
rated these resources as highly relevant to her goals.
She was low in athleticism and money, but perceived
these resources as unrelated to her goals.
The good alignment of resources and goals for this
young woman was associated with a very high level
of well-being. Her level of SWB was one standard
deviation above the sample mean.
The recent surge of interest in goal-related
concepts within psychology is, in large measure, a
result of their potential to explain how “having” and
“doing” co-determine life outcomes and therefore
well-being. As soon as we ask why “having” a particular
personal resource or life advantage leads to
certain behaviors or outcomes, we move from the
“having” to the “doing.” Because goals are intimately
involved in the “doing,” they help clarify the effects
of “having.” For example, an optimistic attitude
toward life has consistently been documented to be
related to higher levels of well-being. If we ask why
optimists are happier than pessimists, the answer
might seem obvious. An optimist sees the proverbial
glass as being half full, while the pessimist sees the
glass as being half empty. What else do we need to
know? Yet, if you consider that optimists have happier
marriages, are better workers, and enjoy better
health, then you begin to think about what optimists
do that pessimists do not do (Chang, 2002a). Much
of the answer concerns differences in goals, planning,
and perseverance in the face of difficulties.
In this chapter, we address a number of questions
concerning why personal goals are important
to well-being, happiness, and a meaningful life.
What are goals and how are they measured? What
needs and purposes do goals fulfill? How are people’s
multiple goals organized and structured? In
terms of their impact on well-being and happiness,
does it matter what goals people strive to achieve or
why they strive to achieve them? For positive psychologists,
finding answers to these questions provides
a revealing look at what people are trying to
accomplish in their lives, and that, in turn, can be
evaluated in terms its impact on well-being. For a
student of positive psychology, goal research and
theory offer a way to think about your own personal
goals in terms of their potential contribution to your
individual happiness.
Defining Personal Goals
In their review of goal constructs in psychology,
Austin and Vancouver (1996, p. 338) define goals as
“. . . internal representations of desired states,
where states are broadly construed as outcomes,
events or processes.” Graduating from college,
meeting new friends, or losing weight would exemplify
goals as outcomes, while planning a wedding
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128 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
or having the family over for Thanksgiving would
be examples of goals as events. Goals as processes
might include activities that are enjoyable in their
own right, like reading, nature walks, spending
time with friends, or working over time to develop
particular skills or interests, such as woodworking,
musical talents, or athletic abilities. Desired states
may range from fulfillment of biological needs such
as hunger, to more complex and long-term desires
involved in developing a successful career, to “ultimate
concerns” (Emmons, 1999b) with transcendent
life meanings expressed through religious and
spiritual pursuits.
Karolyi’s (1999) review of the goal literature
notes that goals may be internally represented in a
variety of ways. People may have a specific image
of a desired state. For example, many people who
live in the upper Midwest, like your textbook
authors, start imagining a warm Florida beach in
mid-February, after the cold and snow begin to get
old. These and other images energize travel plans
for many Midwestern university students, who
head for Florida during spring break. Personal
memories, stories, and if/then scenarios that people
use to think about the past, present, and future
may also represent goals. A pleasurable or painful
memory of a past event may create plans to repeat
(or avoid repeating) certain actions and outcomes.
Goals in the form of achievements, aspirations, and
fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams are a significant
part of an individual’s life story and personal identity
(McAdams, 1996). Many of our feelings about
the past are related to our success or lack of success
in accomplishing personally important goals,
and our future can be actively imagined through
the use of if/then and action/outcome possibilities.
For example: “If I get good grades, then I can get
into graduate school.” “If I just accept who I am
instead of always trying to please others, then I will
be happier.”
In summary, goals may be defined as desired
outcomes that people expend energy trying to
achieve. Goals contain both a cognitive and an
emotion-motivational component. Goals are cognitive
in the sense that they are mental representations of
desired future states. These representations include
beliefs, expectations, memories, and images. The
emotion-motivational components of goals include
the positive and negative feelings associated with
thinking about achieving or failing to achieve important
goals, evaluations of goal progress, and the
emotions following successful or unsuccessful goal
attainment. It is this emotion-motivational component
that energizes action in goal pursuits.
Goals and Related Motivational
Goals are part of a larger motivational framework in
which human behavior is energized and directed
toward the achievement of personally relevant outcomes.
The diverse array of motivational concepts
within psychology includes needs, motives, values,
traits, incentives, tasks, projects, concerns, desires,
wishes, fantasies, and dreams. These sources of
motivation run the gamut from “trivial pursuits” to
“magnificent obsessions” (Little, 1989), and from
consciously developed plans of action, to behaviors
expressing motives that lie outside conscious awareness.
In recent years, goals have emerged as a kind
of middle ground that helps to organize a variety of
motivational concepts. Echoing this sentiment,
Karolyi (1999) argued that goals make an independent
contribution to human behavior that cannot be
subsumed or explained away by other motivational
constructs. There is considerable controversy concerning
this point, especially regarding whether
goals are subsumed by, or distinct from personality
(see for example McAdams, 1995; Miller & Read,
1987; Read & Miller, 1998, 2002; Winter, John,
Stewart, Klohnen, & Duncan, 1998). Most goal
researchers, however, would agree that goals are
connected to other sources of motivation, but they
are also distinct and separate psychological entities.
A case for the unique and distinct status of
goals, among other motivational concepts, does not
mean that needs, values, traits, and other motives
are less important than goals, or that goals are more
fundamental explanations for people’s actions. In
fact, an important topic for this chapter is to examine
how goals may express needs, values, and selfconcept.
As Karolyi (1999) argues, the increased
interest in goal-based perspectives within psychology
reflects the value of goals as an intermediate
level of analysis that connects, mediates, and translates
these more general sources of motivation into
conscious awareness and intentional action. Goals
help make sense of the diverse sources of human
motivation by focusing their effects on the more
particular reasons and purposes for action over
time. Personal goals offer more specific, “here-andnow”
insights into people’s ongoing journey
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Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 129
through life, than do many of the more general and
encompassing motivational perspectives. As Karolyi
puts it, “goals . . . provide a glimpse into each person’s
on-line ‘command center’ ” (1999, p. 269).
This online command center involves the individualized
translations of general needs and motives
into specific expressive forms that characterize
unique individuals. For example, the need for
belongingness, while clearly an important and fundamental
human motive, is expressed in a limitless
variety of behaviors and goals that vary widely
among individuals. People might fulfill this need by
having many casual friends, having a few close
friends, maintaining close ties to their parents and
siblings, or by committing themselves to their
marriages and their own children. These multiple
forms of potential expression are part of the reason
that belongingness is considered fundamental and
universal (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Self-defined
personal goals capture how a need shared by all
humans is translated or expressed in a particular
individual’s life. Personal goals help connect the
general to the particular.
The online command center also involves the
critical role of goals in self-regulating action over
time. (Self-regulated behavior is the topic for
Chapter 8.) Goals function as standards and reference
points for the evaluation of personal growth
and achievement. People’s ongoing evaluation of
how they are doing, what new actions need to be
taken, and how satisfied they are with life are, in
large measure, determined by comparisons of their
current status in relation to progress toward and
achievement of personally meaningful goals. Goals
help tie together feelings about our past, evaluations
of our present, and hopes for the future.
Measuring Personal Goals
Researchers differ in how they define and measure
personal goals; however, all conceptions attempt to
capture what people are trying to accomplish in their
lives in terms of personally desirable outcomes.
Goals have been described as personal concerns
(Klinger, 1977, 1998), personal projects (Little, 1989,
1993; Little, Salmela-Aro, & Phillips, 2007; McGregor
& Little, 1998; Palys & Little, 1983), personal strivings
(Emmons, 1986, 1999b, 2003), and life tasks (Cantor,
1990; Cantor & Sanderson, 1999; Cantor & Zirkel,
1990). Researchers typically give a brief description
and orienting example of the goal concept and then
ask people to describe their most important current
goals. For example, in personal project research, participants
are told, “We are interested in studying the
kinds of activities and concerns that people have in
their lives. We call these personal projects. All of
us have a number of personal projects at any
given time that we think about, plan for, carry out,
and sometimes (though not always) complete”
(McGregor & Little, 1998, p. 497). Examples of projects
might include “completing my English essay”
and “getting more outdoor exercise” (Little, 1989).
In his study of goals conceived as personal
strivings, Emmons (1999b) instructed research participants
to consider personal strivings as “the
things you are typically or characteristically trying to
do in your everyday behavior.” Participants were
told that these might be either positive objectives
they sought, or negative events or things they
wanted to avoid. They were also instructed to
describe recurring goals rather than one-time goals.
Examples of personal strivings include: “trying to
persuade others one is right” and “trying to help
others in need of help.”
In Cantor’s research (Cantor, 1990; Cantor &
Sanderson, 1999), life tasks were introduced to participants
with the following instructions. “One way
to think about goals is to think about ‘current life
tasks.’ For example, imagine a retired person. The
following three life tasks may emerge for the individual
as he or she faces this difficult time: (1) being
productive without a job; (2) shaping a satisfying
role with grown children and their families; and
(3) enjoying leisure time and activities. These specific
tasks constitute important goals since the individual’s
energies will be directed toward solving
them” (Zirkel & Cantor, 1990, p. 175). Participants in
the study were then asked to describe all their current
life tasks.
Once a list of self-generated goals is obtained,
researchers can ask participants to make a number of
additional ratings that get at goal importance, goal
conflict, commitment, and perceived attainability.
Goals can also be grouped into categories to allow
for comparisons among individuals. Depending on
the researchers’ interests and definition of the term
“goal,” goal categories might be focused on a particular
life stage, circumstance, or time-span, or on more
general goals that endure over time. For example,
Zirkel and Cantor (1990) asked college students to
sort their self-described tasks into six categories: academic
success, establishing future goals and plans,
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130 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
making new friends, learning to be on their own
without their families, developing their own unique
personal identities, and balancing their time between
academics and socializing. In contrast, Emmons’
(1999b) research on personal strivings asked people
to describe goals at a higher and more general level.
His research showed that personal goals can be
coded into general categories such as achievement,
power, affiliation or relationships, personal growth
and health, independence, intimacy, and spirituality.
To sum up, personal goals open up a rich assortment
of interrelated factors for well-being researchers.
Goals capture the guiding purposes in people’s lives
that are central to happiness and satisfaction. As we
noted earlier, goals may be considered windows for
viewing major determinants of well-being.
Goal Organization
Most goal researchers agree that goals can be
arranged in a hierarchy with general, more abstract,
and “higher-order” goals at the top and more concrete,
specific, and “lower-order” goals at the bottom
(Austin & Vancouver, 1996). Goals higher in the
hierarchy are considered more important because
they control and give meaning to many lower-order
goals. Higher-order goals can easily be broken
down into the lower-order subgoals they control.
For example, the goal of earning a college degree
requires successful achievement of numerous subgoals
(e.g., meeting college entrance requirements,
signing up for classes, studying, fulfilling graduation
requirements, and paying tuition). In this example,
getting a degree is a higher-order and more important
goal because it organizes and gives purpose to
many specific subgoals. Higher-order goals may also
be more important because of the personal consequences
that may occur if they are not achieved.
The consequences of failing to obtain a college
degree are more significant than failing one class.
Clearly, if all or most subgoals are not achieved,
higher-order goals will be lost as well.
A variety of models have provided different
foundations for ranking goal-related motivations in
terms of their personal or universal importance (see
Austin & Vancouver, 1996; Carver & Scheier, 1998; and
Peterson & Seligman, 2004, for reviews). Nomothetic
models have sought to describe relatively universal
needs, values, and goals shared by most people,
while idiographic models have focused on the unique
ordering of goals by particular individuals. While
certain need-related and value-related goals appear to
have widespread support as being fundamental or
universal, there is much less agreement concerning
how many goals are necessary to describe the range
of human motivations and how they should be
arranged in a hierarchic order. Research relating to the
universal and individualized views of goal motivations
will be the next topics of discussion.
In Chapter 6, we considered the issue of whether
happiness has a universal meaning or varies widely
across cultures. This section examines the same
issue focused on sources of goal-related motivations.
If we examined the goals and motives of people
from many different cultures, what might we
find? Would there be some consensus in the needs
and goals considered important around the world?
Or, would we end up with an extensive list of motivations
too long to be useful? Following in the footsteps
of Maslow’s famous early work, recent studies
have revisited these questions and found some
intriguing answers.
Goals and the Fulfillment
of Basic Human Needs
Abraham Maslow’s classic conception of a hierarchy
of human needs (1943, 1954) was one of the earliest
examples of a motivational hierarchy that attempted
to specify universal sources of human motivation.
Originally describing five needs, the model later
expanded to eight needs regarded as universal
among humans. The expansion occurred as the
result of subdividing aspects of self-actualization
into separate needs. Each need can be thought of as
motivating a particular class of behaviors, the goal
of which is need fulfillment.
At the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy are basic
physiological needs necessary for survival (e.g.,
needs for food and water). At the second level are
needs for safety and security—specifically needs for
a safe, stable, and comforting environment in which
to live, and a coherent understanding of the world.
Belongingness needs, occupying the third rung of
the hierarchy, include people’s desires for love, intimacy,
and attachment to others through family,
friendship, and community relationships. Esteem
needs are fourth in the hierarchy. These include the
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Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 131
need for positive self-regard and for approval,
respect, and positive regard from others. Next in line
are cognitive needs, including needs for knowledge,
self-understanding, and novelty. Aesthetic needs
seek fulfillment in an appreciation of beauty, nature,
form, and order. Second-to-the-top-of the hierarchy
are self-actualization needs for personal growth and
fulfillment. Self-actualizing individuals fully express
and realize their emotional and intellectual potentials
to become healthy and fully functioning. At the
very top of the hierarchy is the need for transcendence,
including religious and spiritual needs to find
an overarching purpose for life (Maslow, 1968).
Maslow argued that lower-order needs take
precedence over higher-order needs. Higher-order
needs are not important, of interest or motivating
unless lower-order needs are first satisfied. Maslow
viewed human development as the process of progressing
up the hierarchy. However, shifting life
circumstances can dictate which need commands
our attention at any given point in time. Depending
on circumstances, a person who was previously
motivated by higher-order needs may regress to a
lower-order need. For example, many college students
have experienced difficulty in finding the
motivation to study (cognitive need) after a failed
romantic relationship or the death of a loved one
(belongingness need).
Maslow’s legacy is still visible in positive psychology.
For example, common assumptions among
positive psychologists are that the more needs a
person has fulfilled, the healthier and happier that
person will be, and that unmet needs decrease wellbeing
(Veenhoven, 1995). The eudaimonic conception
of a healthy and fully functioning person shares
much common ground with Maslow’s description of
a self-actualized individual (Ryan & Deci, 2000;
Ryff & Keyes, 1995). However, Maslow’s hierarchy
has not received extensive research attention, and
both its universality and particular ordering of needs
have been challenged (Austin & Vancouver, 1996;
Peterson & Seligman, 2004). It is also easy to think
of examples to counter the idea that higher-order
needs are not motivating when lower-order needs
are unfulfilled. People die for causes they believe in,
and find solace in the love of others and in religion
when facing terminal illness. People also sacrifice
their own needs for the benefit of others, as any parent
can tell you. Yet the basic idea that some needs
are more compelling than others finds support in
the well-being literature. Recall that in very poor
nations, financial concerns are important to wellbeing,
in all likelihood because money is essential
to the fulfillment of basic survival needs (e.g.,
Biswas-Diener & Diener, 2001). In wealthy countries
where basic needs are fulfilled, financial factors are
not strongly predictive of happiness. This finding is
in line with the idea that higher-order needs (e.g.,
esteem and cognitive needs) become important only
after lower-order needs are met.
Focus on Research: An Empirical
Method for Assessing Universal Needs
Despite difficulties with Maslow’s theory, the possibility
of establishing a list of universal needs remains
appealing. Such a list would help sort and organize
the diverse theories postulating widely different
needs, values, and goals. A recent study addressed
this issue by testing 10 psychological needs as
candidates for “universal need” status (Sheldon,
Elliot, Kim, & Kasser, 2001). Sheldon and his colleagues
identified 10 needs that, based on their similarity,
frequency of use, and empirical support within
the motivational literature, might be considered
universal (Sheldon et al., 2001, adapted from Table 1,
p. 328 and Appendix p. 339):
1. Self-esteem: The need to have a positive selfimage,
a sense of worth, and self-respect, rather
than a low self-opinion or feeling that one is
not as good as others.
2. Relatedness: The need to feel intimate and
mutually caring connections with others, and
to have frequent interactions with others as
opposed to feeling lonely and estranged.
3. Autonomy: The need to feel that choices are
freely made and reflect true interests and values.
Expressing a “true self” rather than being
forced to act because of external environmental
or social pressures.
4. Competence: The need to feel successful, capable,
and masterful in meeting difficult challenges
rather than feeling like a failure, or
feeling ineffective or incompetent.
5. Pleasure/stimulation: The need for novelty,
change, and stimulating, enjoyable experiences
rather than feeling bored or feeling that life is
6. Physical thriving: The need to be in good health
and to have a sense of physical well-being
rather than feeling unhealthy and out-of-shape.
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132 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
7. Self-actualization/meaning: The need for personal
growth and development of potentials
that define who one really is. Finding deeper
purpose and meaning in life as opposed to
feeling stagnant or feeling that life has little
8. Security: The need to feel safe rather than
threatened or uncertain in your present life circumstances;
a sense of coherence, control, and
predictability in life.
9. Popularity/influence: The need to feel admired
and respected by other people and to feel that
your advice is useful and important, resulting
in an ability to influence others’ beliefs and
behaviors (as opposed to feeling that you have
little influence over others and that no one is
interested in your advice or opinions).
10. Money/luxury: The need for enough money to
buy what you want and to have nice possessions
(as opposed to feeling poor and unable
to own desirable material possessions).
Sheldon and colleagues (2001) set out to evaluate
each of these needs to determine its “universality”
based on two criteria. The first criterion stems
from the assumption that people’s most satisfying
life experiences are related to fulfillment of important
needs. This criterion was tested by first having
participants (American and South Korean college
students) describe their single most satisfying life
event. Participants were then asked to rate the
degree of relationship between each of the 10 candidate
needs and the “most satisfying” event they
had described. The second criterion assumes that
the experience of positive and negative emotions is
related to need fulfillment. This criterion was tested
by asking participants to rate the extent to which
they felt 20 different positive and negative moods
associated with satisfying and dissatisfying events.
Among the most satisfying events mentioned by students
were going on a church retreat with friends to
clean up a summer camp for a service project, and
getting a dream summer job. Their most negative
events included breaking up with a romantic partner
and being a victim of a violent assault.
Overall findings provided support for the usefulness
of these two criteria. Needs were significantly
related to satisfying and dissatisfying events, and positive
and negative emotions were largely consistent
between the U.S. and South Korean samples. Sheldon
and colleagues make no claim that their method
permits an exact ranking of human needs. However,
based on their study, a general and speculative ordering
is indicated for the list of needs described above.
The numbers 1–10 reflect each need’s rank order in
the U.S. sample, based on the first criterion (each
need’s importance and relevance to the participants’
most satisfying events). The same rank-ordering of
the top four needs emerged using the second criterion
(that needs should predict event-related affect):
(1) self-esteem, (2) relatedness, (3) autonomy, and
(4) competence. The same four needs ranked at the
top for the South Korean sample, but their relative
positions were slightly different. Specifically, relations
with others emerged as more important than selfesteem
for South Koreans. This may reflect the difference
between the collectivist Asian culture and the
individualistic American culture. In both samples,
security, physical thriving, and self-actualization occupied
middle positions, while popularity-influence and
money-luxury appeared to be relatively less important.
A slightly different pattern also emerged when
students related the candidate needs to their most dissatisfying
life event (e.g., failure of a romantic relationship).
For unsatisfying events, the strongest predictors
were lack of self-esteem, lack of competence, and
lack of security, with the absence of security being
the most powerful of all. Taken in total, this study
suggests that self-esteem, relatedness, autonomy, and
competence are strong candidates for consideration as
universal human needs.
Goals Expressing Fundamental Values
Fundamental values offer another way to think
about universality and hierarchies of human motivation.
Most value theories view values as desirable
states that function as general guides or principles of
living (see Rohan, 2000, for a review). Values
describe broad and general goals that may motivate
a wide range of behaviors. In a hierarchy of human
goals, ranging from concrete (e.g., cleaning your
house) to abstract (having a satisfying life), values
would occupy a position near the top. A recent theory
of values addresses both the hierarchy issue and
universality issue. Building on the work of Rokeach
(1973), Schwartz and his colleagues developed a
comprehensive description of 10 human values
whose validity and shared meaning have been
demonstrated in 65 nations around the world (Sagiv &
Schwartz, 1995; Schwartz, 1992, 1994; Schwartz &
Bilsky, 1987, 1990; Schwartz & Sagiv, 1995).
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 133
In Schwartz’s theory, values are conceived as
cognitive representations of three universal requirements
for human existence: biological needs of the
individual, needs for coordinated social interactions,
and needs related to the welfare of groups and
social institutions. Because of their assumed connection
to important requirements of life, the 10 values
are regarded as universal across cultures. People
and cultures may differ in how they prioritize their
values. That is, how people rank order values in
terms of their importance will vary from person to
person and from culture to culture. A value may be
important to one person and less important or even
unimportant to another. In Schwartz’s theory, the
specific hierarchic arrangement of values depends
on the individual, group, and culture.
However, despite differences in priorities,
Schwartz has provided evidence showing that the
content of 10 human values is widely shared.
Schwartz describes values as “motivational
types” because what distinguishes one value from
another is the type of motivating goal that each
value expresses. Values are regarded as relatively
enduring sources of motivation that are stable across
adulthood (Rokeach, 1973; Schwartz, 1992). The 10
motivational types of values and relevant goals are
summarized in Table 7.1 (adapted from information
in Rohan, 2000; Schwartz, 1992).
When you read through Schwartz’s descriptions
of human values, your own value priorities may
become clearer. If you rank each value in terms of its
personal importance, you will undoubtedly embrace
TABLE 7.1 Values and related goals
Type Description Goals
Power Social status and prestige, control, dominance
over people and resources
Social power, authority, wealth
Achievement Personal success demonstrating competence
according to social standards
Being successful, capable, influential, hardworking,
efficient, achieving goals
Hedonism Pleasures and sensual gratification of oneself Pleasure, enjoyment of food, sex, leisure, etc.
Stimulation Excitement, novelty, challenge in life Adventure, risk-taking, need for change, new
experiences, exciting experiences
Self-direction Independent thought, action and choice;
creating and exploring
Creativity, freedom, independence, curiosity,
choosing one’s own goals
Universalism Understanding, appreciation, tolerance
and protection of the welfare of all people
and of nature
Being broadminded, seeking wisdom, social justice,
fairness, a world of peace, beauty, unity with
nature and safe-guarding the environment
Benevolence Preservation and enhancement of the welfare
of people with whom you are in frequent
contact (e.g., family, friends, co-workers)
Helpfulness, honesty, sincerity, genuineness,
forgiveness, loyalty to others, responsibility,
dependability, reliability
Tradition Respect, commitment and acceptance
of customs and ideas that traditional culture
and religion provide about the self
Humility, modesty, moderation, acceptance of life
circumstances, devout adherence to religious faith
and beliefs, respect for time-honored traditions
Conformity Restraint of actions and impulses likely
to harm others and violate social norms
and expectations
Politeness, courtesy, obedience in meeting
obligations, self-discipline, honoring parents
and elders
Safety Safety, harmony and stability of society,
relationships and self
Security of loved ones, national security, social
order, cleanliness, neatness, reciprocation of favors,
avoidance of indebtedness
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134 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
some values more than others. You can probably also
think of differences among people you know in terms
of value priorities. Some people value stimulation and
are always looking for excitement, like to take risks,
and get bored easily. Conservative and religiousminded
people may place high importance on
tradition in Schwartz’s value scheme.
The connection between goals and values is
explicit in Schwartz’s theory because values are
defined as broad goals that apply to many situations
and remain stable across time. Some of your most
personally important goals are probably related to
one of the 10 values. A helping professional’s career
goals, for example, may express the importance of a
benevolence value. Because values help define our
personal identities and serve as general principles of
living, they represent some of our most important,
and therefore, higher-order goals. The fact that the
values described by Schwartz are shared across cultures
argues for their universal importance.
Personal Goals Across Cultures
Attempts to delineate universal needs and values
find a counterpart in a recent study of the content
of human goals across 15 cultures (Grouzet et al.,
2005). This study provides evidence that the content
and organization of personal goals and their
connection to fundamental needs and values are
shared across cultures.
Nearly 2,000 college students participated in the
study representing Western and Eastern Europe,
Australia, East Asia, South America, the United States,
and Canada. Based on previous studies, Grouzet and
colleagues developed a questionnaire to assess the
individual importance of 11 different goals. A description
of each goal is given in Table 7.2 (adapted from
Grouzet et al., 2005, Table 1, p. 802).
Multiple questionnaire items were used to assess
each of the 11 goals. Participants rated each item
according to its importance as a future life goal, on a
scale of 1 (not at all important) to 9 (extremely important).
Overall, the content of the 11 goals appears to
be widely shared across cultures. Goal measures
showed acceptable levels of internal reliability and
cross-culture equivalence. More importantly, analysis
of participant ratings showed a consistent, coherent,
and similar pattern for each of the 15 cultures. Based
on the statistical pattern of responses, the content of
personal goals showed a clear two-dimensional structure
across different cultures, as shown in Figure 7.1.
People in each culture organized the 11 personal
goals in similar ways. The two goal dimensions
were intrinsic-oriented versus extrinsic-oriented
goals, and physical versus self-transcendence goals.
Each component of the two dimensions was shown
TABLE 7.2 Personal goals across cultures
Goal Description
Affiliation Having satisfying relationships with family and friends
Community feeling Making the world a better place through giving and activism
Conformity Fitting in and being accepted by others
Financial success Being financially successful
Hedonism Having many sensually pleasurable experiences
Image Having an appealing appearance that others find attractive
Physical health Being physically healthy and free of sickness
Popularity Being admired by others, well-known or famous
Safety Able to live without threats to personal safety and security
Self-acceptance Feeling competent, self-aware, self-directed and autonomous
Spirituality Developing a spiritual/religious understanding of the world
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 135
Conformity Community
Extrinsic Intrinsic
Physical self
FIGURE 7.1 Two-Dimensional Representation of 11 Goals Across Cultures
Source: Grouzet, F. M. E., Kasser, T., Ahuvia, A., Dols, J. M. F., Kim, Y., Lau, S., et al. (2005). The
structure of goal contents across 15 cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89,
800–816. Copyright American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission.
to be internally consistent and in opposition to its
counterpart. That is, people who rated intrinsic goals
as important in their lives also rated extrinsic
goals as less important. Those giving high ratings to
goals related to physical pleasure and survival gave
lower ratings to self-transcendent goals.
are defined by their connection to important psychological
needs that are assumed to make their pursuit
and fulfillment inherently satisfying. Of the 11 goals
measured in this study, intrinsic goals included selfacceptance,
affiliation, community feeling, physical
health, and safety. Extrinsic goals express desires for
external rewards or praise and admiration from others
and are assumed to be less inherently or deeply
satisfying when pursued or attained. Extrinsic goals
included financial success, image, popularity, and
conformity. Goals on this dimension showed high
internal consistency.
Goals associated with the physical versus selftranscendence
dimension showed less internal
consistency and some overlap with intrinsic and
extrinsic goals. Some pleasure/survival and selftranscendence
goals may also have intrinsic and
extrinsic components. Physical goals were defined by
hedonism (seeking pleasure and avoiding pain) and
needs for safety, security, and good health. Financial
success, interpreted as the means to achieve physical
goals, was also associated with this dimension.
Self-transcendence goals encompassed needs for a
spiritual/religious understanding of life, community
feeling promoted by benefiting others and improving
the world, and conformity needs reflecting desires to
fulfill social obligations and be accepted by others.
Taken as a template for the content of human
goals, this study suggests that personal goals can be
classified according to how much importance people
assign to intrinsic psychological needs as opposed to
extrinsic rewards on one hand, and how much value
is given to physical pleasures and survival rather
than self-transcendent spiritual understandings
on the other. The authors conclude, “. . . as they
approach their goals in life, people apparently take
into consideration their psychological needs (intrinsic),
their physical survival and pleasure (physical),
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136 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
their desires for rewards and praise (extrinsic), and
their quest to have a meaningful place in the broader
world (self-transcendence)” (Grouzet et al., 2005, p.
Needs, values, and goals that are endorsed by
many cultures necessarily have general rather than
specific content. Their universality stems from
shared human experience and their basis in the biological,
psychological, and social requirements of
life. The particular expression of goal-related motivations
obviously does vary among cultures and
between individuals. For example, opportunities to
develop individualized career goals and fulfill financial
aspirations are clearly more limited in poor
countries than in rich ones. Just as clearly, people
within the same culture, given the opportunity and
sufficient resources, pursue a wide array of careers
based on their unique talents, desires, and selfconceptions.
In other words, the general content and
prioritization of personal goals is clearly influenced
by culture, but the specifics of a person’s goals and
his or her manner of expression are highly individualized.
Recent theories give personal goals a prominent
role in people’s self-understanding and
self-initiated goal strivings, and they help explain
how general goals and motivations become personalized
within each person’s unique self-conception.
Suppose you were given the task of writing a relatively
complete personal history that covered significant
life experiences from your past, who you are
in the present, and where you’re headed in the
future. What would such a description include?
Certainly you would write about important life
experiences, significant relationships, and the personal
qualities and traits that define who you are as
a unique individual. Odds are that you would also
describe personally relevant goals that you have
achieved in the past, goals that you are working to
accomplish in the present, and goals that you hope
to achieve in the future. In short, our self-concept is
partly defined by goals that extend across time from
past, through present, to future—who I’ve been,
who I am now, and who I might become.
The aspect of self-concept defined by future
goals is captured in the idea of “possible selves” as
described by Markus and Nurius (1986). Possible
selves encompass all the potential futures we can
imagine for ourselves. Future selves may be positive,
in the form of ideal selves that we want to
become, or negative, in the form of selves that we
are afraid of becoming. Possible selves we hope to
become might include a physically fit self, a wealthy
self, a popular self, a loved self, a respected self, or
a successful, “A-student” self. Selves we fear becoming
might be an overweight self, an unemployed
self, a depressed or anxious self, a lonely self, a lazy
self, or an academically failing self.
A person’s self-concept plays an important role
in processing information, regulating emotion, and
motivating behavior (see Baumeister, 1998; Markus &
Wurf, 1987; Pittman, 1998, for reviews). Possible
selves are most relevant to the third function of
self—the motivational view (see Markus & Nurius,
1986; Markus & Wurf, 1987). This is because possible
selves provide a connection between the past,
present, and desired future self and therefore provide
motivation for self-change. As Markus and
Nurius note, past, present, and future possible
selves are distinct and separable, but are also intimately
connected. Consider a young college woman
working toward her degree who, as a child, experienced
the divorce of her parents and the resulting
financial hardship suffered by her mother and siblings.
This hardship was partly due to her mother’s
lack of education and inability to get a good job. It
is not hard to imagine how this life event might
influence this student’s thinking about her present
and future self. Her present, college-student self
may be derived and motivated, in part, by a desire
to avoid the past self represented by her mother’s
experience, and her possible selves would likely
include images of a successful career and financial
The idea of possible selves makes an explicit
connection between the self and motivation. “An
individual’s repertoire of possible selves can be
viewed as the cognitive manifestations of enduring
goals, aspirations, motives, fears and threats. Possible
selves provide the specific self-relevant form, meaning,
organization, and direction to these dynamics.
As such, they provide the essential link between the
self-concept and motivation” (Markus & Nurius,
1986, p. 954). In other words, possible selves personalize
the form and content of more general needs,
values, and goals. In the example above, the young
woman’s motivation for college could be thought of
as expressing a general need for achievement, or the
value of security achieved through a successful
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 137
career. However, such explanations, while perhaps
revealing at a general level, would miss the unique
basis and specific content of the young woman’s
motivation for college. That is, goals are not typically
thought of or pursued in the abstract. We may all
have achievement needs, and we may all value
security, but for a particular individual, it is “my”
achievement of “my” goals that is most important,
meaningful, and motivating. As Markus and Nurius
describe it, “there is a piece of self” in each of our
personal goals (1986, p. 961).
The self is increasingly recognized as an
important basis for understanding the what, why,
and how of goal-directed behavior, and the relation
of goals to happiness and well-being (e.g.,
Brunstein, Schultheiss, & Grassman, 1998; Deci &
Ryan, 2000; Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade,
2005; Sheldon & Elliot, 1999). Our self-conception
helps answer questions concerning what goals we
choose to pursue and why they are important. The
self can be viewed as translating broader sources of
motivation into their unique individual expression,
assigning importance to particular goal-directed
actions (Markus & Nurius, 1986; Markus & Wurf,
1987; Vallacher & Wegner, 1987), and serving an
executive function in the control and regulation of
behavior toward goal achievement (e.g., Austin &
Vancouver, 1996; Baumeister, 1998; Carver &
Scheier, 1998; Higgins, 1996; Karolyi, 1999). Many
researchers would give self-defining goals a top
position in a hierarchy of goal-related motivations.
Among our many goals, aspirations, needs, and values,
those most central to our sense of self are
likely to be most important in organizing and
directing our lives.
Goal Progress, Achievement,
and Importance
Research supports the general notion that progressing
toward and achieving personally important goals
increases people’s satisfaction with their lives
and themselves (e.g., Brunstein, 1993; Cantor &
Sanderson, 1999; Emmons, 1996; Emmons & Kaiser,
1996; McGregor & Little, 1998). For example, a
semester-long study found that students’ perceived
progress toward achieving their personal goals was
significantly correlated with increases in positive
emotion and life satisfaction (Brunstein, 1993).
Student goals included such things as improving a
relationship with a romantic partner, learning
enough Spanish to study in Spain, becoming more
independent from parents, and learning to be more
assertive and confident with others.
Research also supports a general relationship
between goal importance and personal satisfaction.
Goals that express fundamental and self-defining
aspects of personal identity are likely to be the most
deeply satisfying when pursued and achieved.
Although mundane activities such as fixing a meal,
cleaning your house, and paying bills can bring some
satisfaction, these goals are relatively less important
to our self-conception and therefore tend to produce
smaller and more temporary effects on well-being.
Do these conclusions mean that, as long as
they are important to us, it doesn’t matter much
which goals we pursue or why we choose to pursue
them? At first thought, the answer may seem to
be yes. After all, why would a person expend
energy trying to achieve a goal if it didn’t have
some importance, and if it is important, shouldn’t
progress or attainment increase feelings of wellbeing?
But several important qualifications temper
this general conclusion. Not all personally important
goals and not all progress toward goal
achievement lead to increased satisfaction. Both
the content of a goal and the reasons for pursuing
it have been found to affect well-being. Our
review of goal research for this chapter focuses on
both the “what” of goal content and the “why” of
goal motivations, and how each affects well-being.
That is, what types of goals and underlying goal
motives are related to enhanced happiness and
Goals whose effects on well-being depend primarily
on self-regulation issues will be discussed in
Chapter 8. The well-being outcomes for some goals
are largely determined by the ease or difficulty people
experience in regulating their actions and staying
on course toward goal achievement. For
example, the pursuit of avoidance or abstract goals
creates a host of self-regulation problems.
The Matching Hypothesis
A number of studies support a matching hypothesis
as a way of sorting out which goals lead to increased
well-being and which do not (see Harackiewicz &
Sansone, 1991; Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). The
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138 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
matching hypothesis suggests that the degree of
person-goal fit determines the effect of goal progress
and goal achievement on well-being. Pursuit of goals
that express or fulfill (i.e., “match”) an individual’s
needs, values, motives, or self-conception is more
likely to increase well-being than pursuit of goals that
do not fit or match with the person. In other words, if
you want to increase your happiness and well-being,
the “right” goals to pursue are those that fit and
express your most important needs, desires, and
sense of self. The “wrong” goals are those that are
unrelated to these deeper, enduring personal characteristics.
The personal characteristics that underlie
goals may be unique to the individual or shared by all
people. For example, goals related to belongingness
needs may make successful relationships and social
interactions universally important to well-being.
To test the matching hypothesis, researchers
obtain measures of underlying motivations (such
as needs, values, or aspects of self) and ask participants
to generate a list of important personal
goals. Participants’ goal-related activities and
efforts, and their perceived progress toward
achieving goals are also assessed. These measures
are then related to assessments of well-being
across some time period. The matching hypothesis
is supported if goal-directed activities and
progress that are related to the underlying motive
show higher positive correlations with well-being
than goals that are unrelated to such a motive.
A number of studies have found support for
this underlying motive-goal-well-being relationship.
For example, one study investigated the
relationship between goals and two fundamental
motives, defined as agency and communion
(Brunstein et al., 1998). Agency refers to needs for
achievement, power, mastery, independence, and
self-assertion. Communion refers to needs for
affiliation and intimacy, as expressed in a desire
to form close relationships with others. People
vary in the relative importance of these two
general motivations. Some of us are primarily oriented
toward agency and others toward communion.
Brunstein and his colleagues examined
whether goal-motive congruence (or incongruence)
predicted well-being.
In two studies, one spanning 2 weeks and the
other a semester, college students were classified as
either agency-motivated or communion-motivated
based on established measures assessing the relative
dominance of each motive.
The relationship between personal goals and
agency–communion motives was assessed by asking
students to describe specific, current and future
goals related to each motive. Goals related to
agency were defined as “striving for achievement
and mastery experiences,” and “striving for independence,
social influence, and self reliance.”
Personal goals relating to communion were defined
as “striving for intimacy and interpersonal closeness,”
and “striving for affiliation and friendly social
contacts.” Examples of goals reflecting an agency
motive included improving understanding of a particular
subject, becoming a more independent
person, winning an athletic competition, and
convincing parents that “my college major is the
right thing for me.” Communion-related goals
included such things as improving a romantic relationship,
being more helpful to a sick mother,
spending more time with friends, and developing
new friendships with fellow dorm mates. Students
also made various ratings of progress, commitment,
attainability, effort, and success in relation to their
personal goals and recorded daily well-being at
selected intervals.
Results provide strong support for the matching
hypothesis. Students who were achieving personal
goals congruent with their underlying
motive-orientation showed increased well-being
over the course of the study. This was true for students
who focused either on achievement (agency)
or on relationships (communion). Conversely, students
progressing toward motive-incongruent goals,
or who were not achieving motive-congruent goals,
showed lower levels (or even declines) in wellbeing.
The important point of the matching hypothesis
is that the happiness we obtain from fulfilling
our goals depends on their fit with our primary
motives in life. You can easily imagine a college student
who excels academically, but is unhappy
because he wants, but does not have, many close
friends. Similarly, an outgoing student enjoying an
active social life may be unhappy because she has a
strong need to succeed in college, but is struggling
academically. In short, not all our goal achievements
make us happier.
In a similar vein, our fundamental values also
help determine what goals and activities bring us
the most satisfaction. A recent study examined college
students’ value-orientation in moderating the
degree of satisfaction gained from different types of
activities (Oishi, Diener, Suh, & Lucas, 1999). The
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 139
10 values in Schwartz’s value theory (discussed earlier
in this chapter) were used to ascertain participants’
value priorities. The 10 values were paired in
all possible combinations, and participants were
asked to identify which value in each pair held the
higher priority for them. This process yielded a prioritized
list of each person’s values. Participants
also rated their daily well-being across 23 days,
gave satisfaction ratings for value-related activities,
rated global life satisfaction, and rated satisfaction
in the specific life domains of romantic relationships,
finances, grades, family, and social life.
Consistent with the matching hypothesis, success in
value-congruent life domains and activities correlated
significantly with both global and daily wellbeing.
For example, the global life satisfaction
ratings of students who placed high importance on
the value of Achievement were heavily influenced
by their degree of satisfaction with their most
important achievement domain of life—namely,
college grades. The global satisfaction ratings of
those who prioritized Benevolence were most
affected by their success in the domain of social
life; for those prioritizing Conformity (honoring parents
and elders), the greatest impact came from
their degree of satisfaction with family life. Daily
well-being was also significantly related to activities
that engaged students’ most important values.
Whether students had a “good” day had much to do
with whether they had engaged in activities that
expressed their most important values. Students prioritizing
Universalism (justice, peace, preserving
the environment) reported that recycling efforts and
involvement in civic affairs were very satisfying,
while activities like shopping and buying expensive
clothes were more satisfying to students who
placed a premium on Power (prestige and wealth).
Overall, a student’s value priorities had a determining
effect on what areas of life and what activities
were the most satisfying.
What Explains the Matching
The matching hypothesis suggests a simple answer
to the question of which goals do or do not enhance
well-being. Goals that fit a person’s needs, values,
and sense of self are likely to increase well-being,
while goals that are mismatched with the person will
likely lead to no change, or perhaps even to diminished
well-being. What explains the importance of
person-goal fit for the satisfaction we obtain from the
pursuit and achievement of our goals?
(1990, 1993) suggests that goals fitting with core
aspects of the self (such as deeply held values) produce
intense feelings of involvement, meaningfulness,
and satisfaction because they express our “true selves”
and our inner potentials. Personally expressive goal
activities provide a strong sense of life purpose: “This
is who I am and this is what I was meant to do.” In
short, to the extent that our goals match and express
our core sense of self, they become avenues for selfrealization
and self-fulfillment. Such goals acquire
particular value and a deeper meaning because
their achievement affirms and completes our sense
of self (Vallacher & Wegner, 1987; Wicklund &
Gollwitzer, 1982).
Personally expressive goals are particularly
important to eudaimonic well-being (i.e., to wellbeing
related to meaning, vitality, and healthy functioning),
as opposed to hedonic well-being (which is
defined by positive emotions and life satisfaction)
(see Chapter 2). From a eudaimonic perspective, it is
possible for some goals to increase our happiness,
but not contribute to increased meaning or vitality.
For example, a college student may be happy with
his part-time job because it is easy and provides
enjoyable relations with co-workers (in other words,
the job has high hedonic value). However, the work
required by the job may not be personally meaningful
if it does not engage significant aspects of his
identity and talents (low eudaimonic value). The
reverse can also be true. A goal may be unpleasant
to carry out (low hedonic value), but personally
meaningful (high eudaimonic value). Being a good
parent, for example, requires many unpleasant tasks,
such as changing dirty diapers, saying “no” to some
of your children’s requests, and taking care of sick
children. Yet, people regard raising kids as one of
life’s most deeply satisfying experiences (Kahneman,
Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004).
Research supports these distinctions. A variety
of goal achievements may increase our hedonic
enjoyment. However, achieving goals that express
our authentic or true selves seems to contribute
most to an enhanced sense of meaning and purpose
in life, and to greater psychological health and vitality
(e.g., McGregor & Little, 1998; Ryan & Deci, 2000;
Sanderson & Cantor, 1995; Sheldon & Elliot, 1999;
Sheldon & Kasser, 1995; Sheldon, Ryan, Rawsthorne,
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140 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
& Ilardi, 1997). McGregor and Little (1998) found
that success in accomplishing non-expressive goals
was more strongly related to increased happiness
than to increased meaning. Just the opposite was
found for goals expressing core aspects of self. Selfdefining
goals were associated with an increased
sense of purpose and meaningfulness in life, but
less with increased happiness. One explanation for
the well-being effects of person-goal matching may
involve the satisfaction derived from personally
expressive goals. Such goals seem particularly
related to enhanced eudaimonic well-being.
chapter, in the section on “Personal Goals Across
Cultures,” the general differences between intrinsic
and extrinsic goals were described. The basis for the
distinction has to do with whether the purpose of an
activity is defined primarily by internal or external
rewards (Pittman, 1998; Waterman et al., 2003).
Intrinsic goals have much in common with personally
expressive goals, as discussed above. Intrinsic
motivation refers to reasons for engaging in an activity
that are focused on the activity itself. The reward,
value, and goal of the activity are intrinsic to the
“doing.” That is, the activity acts as its own reward
because it is enjoyable, highly interesting, or personally
expressive, or creates feelings of intense
involvement and mastery. In contrast, the reasons
that define extrinsic motivation are focused on outcomes.
The activity is a means to an end, where the
end is a desirable outcome. The value or purpose of
the activity is defined, not by the “doing,” but by the
end result.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and goals
are not inherently incompatible. Most would agree
that an ideal job is one that is personally satisfying
in terms of permitting the expression of our interests
and talents (intrinsic), and also provides an
income that supports a comfortable material life
(extrinsic). However, research has shown that problems
and dissatisfaction may result if the pursuit of
extrinsic goals interferes with fulfillment of the
intrinsically satisfying goals that determine happiness
and well-being. Kasser and Ryan (1993) suggest
that extrinsic goals can lead to negative
consequences when they become a person’s dominant
motivation. The intrinsic–extrinsic distinction
offers a second explanation for the matching
hypothesis. Goals that match with the person are
more likely to be intrinsically satisfying. Goals that
do not match may have extrinsic value, but do not
necessarily increase well-being.
A third explanation for the positive relation between
person-goal matching and well-being concerns
one’s reasons for pursuing a goal. Self-concordance
theory is a recent line of thinking that describes how
the reasons behind goal pursuit are critical to wellbeing
outcomes (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999). Research
supporting the theory suggests that pursuing goals
for the “right” reasons leads to better goal achievement
and personal adjustment. According to selfconcordance
theory, the “right reasons” have to do
with “. . . the feelings of ownership that people
have (or do not have) regarding their self-initiated
goals” (Sheldon & Houser-Marko, 2001, p. 152).
Sheldon and his colleagues have found that “not all
personal goals are personal” in terms of how people
experience them (Sheldon & Elliot, 1998, p. 546).
Self-concordant goals reflect autonomous motives
and freely chosen reasons for goal pursuit that generate
feelings of ownership and personal expressiveness
and lead to increased well-being. In
contrast, controlled motivation refers to cases in
which people pursue goals that they have not freely
chosen, or that are not personally expressive. For
example, let’s say one student is given the opportunity
to write a research paper on a topic of great
personal interest and relevance to him, while
another student is assigned by her professor to write
a paper on a topic that has nothing to do with her
inherent interests. Concordance theory would predict
greater enjoyment, fulfillment, and well-being
for the student who experiences personal ownership
of his task because he freely chose it, and
whose task provides him with an opportunity for
personal expressiveness. In the case of the assigned
writing project, the writer may not internalize or feel
a strong sense of ownership of the goal. This may
reduce both the effort expended to achieve the goal
and the emotional benefits of goal attainment.
The autonomous motives that define selfconcordance
may contribute to the well-being
effects of person-goal matching. It seems likely that
goals which match an individual’s needs, values,
and personal identity would also be freely chosen
and experienced with the sense of ownership
described by self-concordant theory. In other words,
matched goals may also be self-concordant goals.
Some amount of the increased well-being associated
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 141
with matching may be due to this connection with
The distinction between autonomous and controlled
motivations also suggests an important qualification
to the matching hypothesis. Even a goal that
fits the person may not increase well-being if that
goal is not also freely chosen. Many careers might fit
our interests, talents, and values, but it is the career
we, ourselves select that will likely produce the
strongest commitment and lead to the greatest satisfaction.
Matching, by itself, may not be sufficient to
ensure increased well-being from working toward
and achieving our goals. Both the “right goals” and
the “right reasons” seem to be necessary.
Focus on Research: Happiness
and Success in College
Do students’ reasons for attending college make a
difference in terms of academic success and satisfaction
with college life? This was the general question
Sheldon and Houser-Marko (2001) addressed when
they conducted a study to test self-concordance
theory. They examined the relationships between
self-concordant goals and measures of success, wellbeing,
and adjustment during freshmen students’
first year of college. They were interested in two
specific questions. First, do students coming to college
with self-concordant goals fare better than students
with non-concordant goals? Second, can the
increased happiness derived from goal progress and
achievement be maintained and provide the basis
for further enhanced well-being, or do people slip
back to their original levels of happiness?
Following earlier work on self-determination
theory (Deci & Ryan, 1991; see Chapter 2), the extent
of self-concordance was defined according to four
degrees of internalization and ownership: external,
introjected, identified, and intrinsic. Each term refers
to different reasons for pursuing a particular goal,
with these reasons varying along a continuum from
controlled/imposed to autonomous/freely-chosen
(Sheldon & Houser-Marko, 2001). The following
descriptions and example items (arranged from leastto
most-autonomous) summarize concepts presented
by Sheldon and Houser-Marko (2001, p. 155).
External motives refer to the rewards,
approval, praise, or situational demands that explain
why we strive for a goal. These motives are the
most controlled and least self-concordant. Example
item: “You strive for this goal because somebody
else wants you to, or because the situation seems to
compel it.”
Introjected motives involve negative emotions
we may experience if we don’t try to attain
certain goals. These motives are also considered
to reflect controlled motives and therefore are not
self-concordant. Example item: “You strive for this
goal because you would feel ashamed, guilty, or
anxious if you didn’t.”
Identified motives involve valuing a goal
because of its personal importance, though people
may sometimes come to value a goal because of the
influence of others. For example, a teacher might
foster respect for the environment among her students.
In this case, the original source of the goal is
external. However, “identified” means that others (in
this case, the students) have internalized the goal
and made it their own. Example item: “You strive for
this goal because you really believe it’s an important
goal to have.”
Intrinsic motives involve emotional pleasure
and enjoyment derived from pursuing a goal.
Intrinsic motives are the most autonomous and selfconcordant
goal motives. Example item: “You strive
for this goal because of the enjoyment or stimulation
which that goal provides you.”
Nearly 200 freshmen at the University of
Missouri–Columbia were asked to list their eight
most important personal goals as they entered their
first semester of college. Getting good grades, getting
involved in campus organizations, making
friends, not gaining weight, and maintaining weekly
contact with parents were among the goals students
described. Students categorized their reasons for
pursuing each goal according to the four motives
described above. Twice each semester students also
rated how well they were progressing toward each
of their eight goals. At the beginning of the spring
semester, students could revise their list of eight
goals or retain the ones they had listed in the fall.
Students’ reasons for college attendance were
measured and classified according to the four levels
along the autonomous-to-controlled continuum of
motivation. For example, did students feel they “had
to” attend college because of parental pressure,
because all their friends were going, or because they
believed that college was the only way to get a
rewarding career (external motives)? Would they
feel guilty or anxious if they didn’t go, perhaps
because they worried they would disappoint their
parents, or be unable to get a good job (introjected
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142 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
motives)? Was college attendance motivated by the
personal importance and value of a college education
that they may have been taught by parents or
high school teachers (identified motives)? Or was
the primary motivation for college based on the
anticipated enjoyment and stimulation that result
from encountering intellectual challenge, meeting
new friends, learning about new ideas and people
with different lifestyles, and being on their own,
away from family (intrinsic motives)?
Well-being measures were taken several times
during each semester. Students completed measures
of social/emotional/academic adjustment to college
and measures of their progress toward establishing
healthy personal, social, and occupational identities.
Academic performance was assessed by students’
fall and spring semester grades. Parents and peers
also rated each student in the study on several of the
well-being and motivation measures to provide a
validity check of student responses.
Results support the importance of pursuing
self-concordant goals. Students with self-concordant
goals did better than those with less concordant
goals. In the first-semester phase of the study, students
who had expressed identified and intrinsic
reasons for college attendance and specific semester
goals were more likely to earn grades higher
than predicted by their scores on a college placement
test called the ACT, and were more likely to
attain their personal goals. In turn, goal attainment
was predictive of better social, emotional, and academic
adjustment to college, clearer personal identity
development, and an increased likelihood of
adopting even more self-concordant goals in the
second-semester phase of the study. The secondsemester
phase examined whether the benefits of
self-concordant goal attainment would be maintained
and provide a basis for further increases in
well-being. Many students lost some of the wellbeing
they had gained during the first semester, and
such losses were related to poor progress toward
personal goals in the second semester. However,
those students who continued to make progress
toward their personal goals in the second semester
were able to maintain and, in some cases, even
increase beyond previous gains in well-being. This
latter finding suggests the possibility of an upward
increase in well-being similar to the one described
by Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory of positive
emotions (see Chapter 3).
According to Fredrickson’s theory, positive
emotions help build personal resources that contribute
to greater effectiveness and health, thereby
producing an upward spiral of well-being. In a similar
fashion, self-concordant goals expressing intrinsic
and identified motivations appear to contribute to
greater goal success which, in turn, increases wellbeing.
Enhanced well-being may then increase the
likelihood of pursuing additional self-concordant
goals in the future, thus contributing to greater wellbeing
and continuing the upward spiral of increased
happiness and well-being. Sheldon and Houser-
Marko (2001) note that keeping this cycle going is
hard work because, as their data show, the upward
spiral of well-being seems to require continued success
in attaining personal goals. Given the uncertainties
of life and setbacks in achieving our goals,
the risk of backsliding to baseline levels of wellbeing
is difficult to avoid (see Chapter 5 for a discussion
of adaptation processes). However, Sheldon
and Houser-Marko speculate that if increased wellbeing
can be sustained long enough, perhaps an
individual may permanently alter her level of
expected happiness and adopt a new sense of self
as a happy person. This, in turn, might create a selffulfilling
prophecy in which the person thinks, feels,
and acts in ways that sustain the new self-definition.
We began this section with the question,
“Which goals contribute most to well-being?” Research
provides the following answers: Goals that (1) fit or
match a person’s needs, values, and motives; (2) are
deeply expressive of personal identity; (3) are oriented
toward intrinsically satisfying activities; and
(4) have been autonomously chosen. By implication,
goals that are less likely to increase well-being have
the opposite characteristics (i.e., goals that are mismatched,
disconnected from identity, extrinsic, and
arise from controlled origins). Our discussion of
goals that are related and unrelated to increased life
satisfaction provides a basis for understanding a welldocumented
finding in positive psychology concerning
materialistic goals. People who give high goal
priority to the pursuit of money, possessions, social
recognition, and physical appearance are likely to be
unhappy. Studies reviewed in Chapter 6 concluded
that, beyond the point necessary to satisfy basic
needs, more money does not have any appreciable
positive effect on personal happiness. Research on
materialistic life goals not only affirms this conclusion,
but also suggests that the single-minded pursuit of
money can cause unhappiness.
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 143
Psychologists will hopefully excuse our play on
Freud’s classic work, Civilization and Its Discontents
(Freud, 1961, initially published in 1930), for the title
of this section. The thematic parallels between the
discontents of civilization and the discontents of
materialism are strong. Freud described the frustrations,
sufferings, and dilemmas that result from the
inevitable conflict between the self-centered needs
of individuals and the co-operative and self-sacrificing
requirements of civilized society. Studies of
materialism seem to describe a similar dilemma
between what Ryan (2002, p. ix) referred to as the
“religions of consumerism and materialism” in affluent
societies and the unhappiness that befalls their
faithful followers.
Materialism and consumption can be blamed
for any number of macro-level social and environmental
ills, from the great divide between the
“haves” and the “have-nots” to global warming and
environmental degradation. Psychological studies
offer a more micro-level view of the individual consequences
of materialistic life aspirations. The
research literature documents many personal problems
that are both causes and consequences of
materialism. Recent theories help explain how materialistic
aspirations undermine well-being and why
people may come to embrace materialistic life values.
We begin with a review of one of the first studies
to show the discontents of materialism.
In an article titled, “A dark side of the
American dream: Correlates of financial success as a
central life aspiration,” Kasser and Ryan (1993)
examined the relationship between college students’
life priorities and measures of well-being. The relative
importance of four goals was used to assess students’
central life aspirations. Life aspirations were
assessed in two ways: a measure of guiding principles
and an aspiration index. The guiding principles
measure asked students to rank-order the importance
of five values: money, family security, global
welfare, spirituality, and hedonic enjoyment. The
life aspirations index involved rating the importance
and likelihood of attaining four goals. Several
specific statements represented each goal. Selfacceptance
refers to people’s desire for personal
autonomy, psychological growth, and self-esteem.
Examples of statements that students rated for this
goal were: “At the end of your life you will look
back on your life as meaningful and complete.”
“You will be in charge of your life.” “You will know
and accept who you really are.” Affiliation goals
were defined by the importance of family and good
friends. Specific statements included: “You will have
good friends that you can count on.” “You will share
your life with someone you love.” “You will have
people who care about you and who are supportive.”
Community feeling reflects a desire to make
the world a better place by contributing to the common
good. Statements in this category included:
“You will help others improve their lives.” “You will
donate time or money to charity.” “You will work
for the betterment of society.” Financial success is
related to the importance placed on attaining wealth
and material success. Statements in this goal category
included: “You will be financially successful.”
“You will have a high-status job.” “You will buy
things just because you want them.”
Assessment of health and well-being included
measures of self-actualization, vitality, control orientation,
and several measures of physical and emotional
health. The self-actualization measure
assessed accurate perceptions of reality, sense of
social interest, personal autonomy, and engagement
in relationships. The vitality measure assessed the
degree to which people feel energetic, vigorous,
and “alive” in their physical and mental activities.
Control orientation refers to the relative importance
of external factors and rewards in shaping a person’s
motives and goals.
In three separate studies involving nearly 500
young adults, Kasser and Ryan (1996) found a consistent
inverse relationship between financial aspirations
and well-being. In other words, placing high priority
on financial success was related to lower well-being.
Specifically, those people who rated the extrinsic
goals of wealth and material success as more important
than the intrinsic goals (such as self-acceptance,
affiliation, and contributions to the community)
showed lower levels of self-actualization, life vitality,
and social adjustment, and greater depression and
anxiety. It is important to note that the key variable
here is the dominance of financial aspirations over
other life goals. It was not financial aspirations per se
that were related to lower well-being. Diminished
health and well-being were found only for those people
who consistently rated finances as more important
than the other three goals. Other studies found
that, in addition to financial success, emphases on
social recognition, social status, and physical appearance
were also related to lower well-being (Kasser,
2002; Kasser & Ryan, 1996).
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144 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
Standardized Importance Scores
Life Satisfaction
FIGURE 7.2 The Importance Assigned to Love and Money
in Relationship to Self-Reported Life Satisfaction
Source: Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2002). Will money
increase subjective well-being? A literature review and
guide to needed research. Social Indicators Research, 57,
119–169. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishing. Reprinted
by permission.
Since the publication of Ryan and Kasser’s
study, research has documented a number of negative
life outcomes associated with materialistic aspirations
(see Kasser, 2002, 2004; Kasser & Kanner,
2004, for detailed reviews).
People who are highly committed to extrinsic
materialistic goals score lower on a variety of selfreported
and independent assessments of quality of
life, compared to those who either do not assign
high value to materialistic goals, or who show a balance
between their financial and intrinsic motivations.
Materialistic individuals suffer more physical
illness and anxiety symptoms, experience fewer
positive emotions, watch more television, use more
drugs and alcohol, are at higher risk for personality
disorders and depression, and report less satisfying
relationships with others. In addition, the general
relationship between goal progress and increased
well-being that is true for most goals does not hold
true in the case of materialistic goals. For example,
Sheldon and Elliot (1998) found that making
progress toward materialistic aspirations was not
related to increases in short- or longer-term wellbeing.
These conclusions have been documented
among people within many different age groups,
social and economic backgrounds, and cultures.
That is, the connections between materialistic values
and lower well-being are not confined to American
culture. Kasser and Kanner (2004) note studies in
Australia, England, Germany, South Korea,
Romania, and Russia replicate findings within the
U.S. samples.
In short, no matter who or where you are,
materialism appears to undercut happiness.
Figure 7.2 shows results from a study by
Diener and Oishi (2000) of 7,000 college students in
41 different countries. The importance students
assigned to money and love are plotted against their
self-reported ratings of life satisfaction. As you can
see, the more importance students gave to money,
the less they were satisfied with their lives. Love
showed an opposite relationship to life satisfaction.
Why Are Materialists Unhappy?
placing more importance on financial success than
on self-acceptance, affiliation, and community contribute
to personal unhappiness? A “goal contents”
explanation suggests that extrinsic goals (such as
financial success or social status) are less satisfying
than intrinsic goals (such as personal growth or emotional
intimacy with others), because intrinsic goals
reflect basic psychological needs, satisfaction of
which is required for health and happiness (Sheldon,
Ryan, Deci, & Kasser, 2004). Intrinsic goals are inherently
rewarding because of their connection to
fundamental human needs. Extrinsic goals, on
the other hand, may not fulfill our most important
needs and therefore pursuing them, perhaps at the
expense of intrinsically satisfying goals, may lead to
lower well-being.
The dominance of extrinsic financial goals
may also interfere with the pursuit of intrinsic goals
and divert people from the more important and
deeper satisfactions in life. For example, people
who value self-acceptance are interested in developing
the self-understanding necessary to direct
their own lives in a manner that is consistent with
their talents, inner potentials, and sense of self. As
we have seen, goals that are consistent with the self
tend to enhance well-being. In contrast, people
with strong financial aspirations may deflect their
attention away from self-examination and selfexpression
and make choices that diminish personal
satisfaction. Choosing a particular career only
because you can make a lot of money, without
regard for the kind of work you find meaningful or
satisfying, is probably one example of a recipe for
later unhappiness.
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Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 145
A high level of concern with finances may also
cause people to ignore or fail to invest in developing
the close, supportive relationships that are such an
important source of well-being. In line with this
possibility, a recent series of studies by Vohs and her
colleagues (Vohs, Mead, & Goode, 2006) showed
that simply thinking about money seems to shift
people’s thoughts toward self-sufficiency and independence
from others. Money seems to make us feel
self-sufficient and able to make it on our own, but at
some cost to our interpersonal relationships.
Compared to control groups, people primed to think
about money were consistently found to be less
helpful and sensitive to others and more desirous
of being on their own and completing tasks
independently. These findings reinforce the general
conclusion that those human needs most important
for well-being and personal happiness may be
frustrated, ignored, or inadequately fulfilled among
people who devote most of their time and energy to
pursuing materialistic goals.
second explanation emerged from a controversy
concerning the relative importance of goal content
and goal motive. Does the materialism–unhappiness
association result from the content of materialistic
goals (in other words, what is pursued) or from the
motive that underlies them (in other words, why
they are pursued)? As we have seen, the goal contents
explanation is focused on how commitment to
materialistic aspirations may divert attention away
from fulfilling needs that would contribute more to
happiness and well-being. On the other hand, the
motive explanation focuses on the reason behind
goal pursuit—specifically whether the reason is
autonomous or controlled (Carver & Baird, 1998;
Srivastava, Locke, & Bartol, 2001). As described in
our earlier discussion of the self-concordance
model, external rewards and introjected motives are
controlled motives, while identified and intrinsic
motives are autonomous or freely-chosen motives
for goal striving.
Critics of the goal contents explanation argue
that financial goals are likely to involve controlled
sources of motivation, which have been linked to
poor well-being outcomes. Desires for money, fame,
social recognition, and popularity seem to fit especially
well with the concept of controlled motives
based on external rewards. Introjected motives
stemming from unpleasant feelings of anxiety, guilt,
and insecurity might also lie behind materialistic
strivings. In either case, it is the motive—not just
goal content—that makes financial aspirations damaging
to well-being. Financial goals may not necessarily
reduce happiness if people have the “right”
motives (i.e., autonomous ones). Carver and Baird
(1998) argue that it is quite possible for a person to
value a high-income career because of the excitement
and enjoyment it brings (intrinsic motives),
and/or because she truly believes it is valuable or
important (identified motives). In these cases, wellbeing
would likely increase rather than decrease.
In Carver and Baird’s view, two people with
strong desires for wealth, fame, and fortune will
have different well-being outcomes depending on
whether their motives reflect external/introjected or
identified/intrinsic motivations. In short, it’s the
motive—not goal content—that is important.
A recent study helps sort out explanations for
the effects of “what” and “why” in people’s goal strivings.
Sheldon and his colleagues conducted three
studies to evaluate the relative importance of goal
content and goal motive (2004). The content of
personal goals was evaluated by having participants
rate the extent to which each of their specific selfidentified
goals contributed to achievement of six
“possible futures.” Three of these possible futures
represented intrinsic values (achieving meaningful,
close, and caring relationships; personal growth
resulting in a fulfilled and a meaningful life; and contributing
to society by making the world a better
place). The other three possible futures were oriented
toward extrinsic values (achieving financial success
by getting a high-income job and having many material
possessions; attaining popularity/fame, as measured
by being known and admired by lots of people;
and presenting an attractive physical image in terms
of looking good and being attractive to others). Goal
motives were assessed according to participants’ ratings
of the external, introjected, identified, and intrinsic
motives for pursuing a goal. Well-being was
assessed using standard measures of the balance of
positive and negative emotions and life satisfaction.
Overall, the results of the three studies
showed that both goal content and goal motive
made independent contributions to well-being. The
participants who expressed the highest levels of
well-being were those who were pursuing intrinsic
goals for autonomous reasons (i.e., identified or
intrinsic motives). Lower well-being was reported
by those who were pursuing extrinsic goals for
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146 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
which motivation was controlled (i.e., external or
introjected motives). Some of the strongest evidence
for the detrimental effects of extrinsic goals and controlled
motivation on well-being was shown in one
of Sheldon and colleagues’ studies that assessed
personal goals and well-being among college students
over a 1-year period following graduation.
Graduates with a controlled motivational orientation
who were pursuing extrinsic goals (e.g., money and
fame) reported lower levels of well-being than graduates
who were striving toward intrinsic goals with
autonomous motivations.
for the link between an over-emphasis on
financial goals and lower well-being focuses on psychological
insecurities and unmet needs (Kasser,
2002, 2004; Kasser & Kanner, 2004; Solberg, Diener, &
Robinson, 2004). Some theorists suggest that materialists
may be unhappy people to begin with. People
who are emotionally and socially insecure may view
financial success as a means of enhancing their selfimage
and social image, thereby reducing their
feelings of insecurity. Having lots of money may be
seen as a way to “prove” oneself, gain the admiration
of others, and compensate for unmet needs.
This may seem like a vain and shallow illusion, but
what parent wouldn’t point with pride to their rich,
successful son or daughter? And who hasn’t had
wishful fantasies of being rich and famous? Many
social observers argue that American culture encourages
the idea that “being somebody” means making
lots of money and having expensive possessions
(e.g., Cushman, 1999; Easterbrook, 2003; Paterson,
2006; Storey, 1999).
Why Do People Adopt
Materialistic Values?
Three factors appear to exert important influence on
the development of materialistic values: (1) growing
up in a consumer culture; (2) psychological insecurity;
and (3) the connection between materialism
and death. Each of these will be explored below.
CONSUMER CULTURE Self, culture, and personal
goals are interlinked. All cultures shape children’s
developing sense of who they are and who they
should strive to become. The love of parents, acceptance
by peers, and success in life tasks are, at least in
part, contingent on embracing your culture’s values
and practices. In contributing to the general shape of
self, culture also influences personal goals. As we
saw in Chapter 6, beliefs about the meaning of the
good life and how to achieve it differ between
Western and Eastern cultures. While the specific
meaning and expression vary by individual, culture
sets many of the foundational assumptions and
dominant values that define success and happiness.
Within consumer societies, the influence of
culture on goals provides one avenue for the adoption
of materialistic aspirations and values. Even a
casual observer can note children’s exposure to
countless socializing messages and models promoting
the individual and social benefits of money and
material possessions. Some 12 billion dollars are
spent annually on the marketing of products to kids
in what Levin and Linn call the “commercialization
of childhood” (Levin & Linn, 2004). Toy sales related
to blockbuster children’s movies like Star Wars and
Harry Potter, now rival ticket revenues. Concern
over the possible damaging effects of this commercialization
led the governments of Norway and
Sweden to prohibit ads from targeting children
under age 12.
In the adult realm, we are all familiar with
advertisements suggesting (either explicitly or
implicitly) that our personal problems can be solved
and our happiness ensured if we buy the “right”
product or service. Some ads are pitched to people’s
vulnerabilities, such as feelings of inadequacy, social
anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and concerns over
poor appearance. Others offer the purchase of
increased happiness, fun, fame, fortune, adventure,
sex, romance, and the envy of friends.
The bottom line of these messages, as Kasser
(2004) so aptly put it, is that the good life is the
“goods” life. Such ads promote a materialistic value
orientation described by Kasser and his colleagues
as “. . . the belief that it’s important to pursue the
culturally sanctioned goals of attaining financial success,
having nice possessions, having the right
image (produced, in large part, through consumer
goods), and having a high status (defined mostly by
the size of one’s pocketbook and the scope of one’s
possessions)” (Kasser, Ryan, Couchman, & Sheldon,
2004, p. 13). The key question is, as we buy the
products and celebrate models of fame and fortune,
do we also buy the assumption that a life centered
around materialistic goals is the route to personal
ISBN 1-256-51557-4
Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 147
For some social observers, the answer is
clearly yes. Classic sociologists from Marx to Veblen
have described the false needs and shallow, materialistic
lives promoted by capitalistic societies (see
Paterson, 2006; Storey, 1999, for reviews). From this
view, consumption as a dominant cultural practice
diverts attention from deeper life satisfactions and
masks the power and control held by the few over
the many. Taking a psychological perspective,
Cushman (1990) argues that consumer economies
have created an “empty self” by stripping away
deeper and more enduring meanings and social
connections associated with close family ties, community
connections, and satisfying work. An empty
self makes people particularly vulnerable to the
“make-you-happy” messages of advertisements.
However, Cushman believes that the marketplace
only offers a “lifestyle solution” to problems of finding
purpose and meaning in life. Having the “right”
look and the right “stuff” is a poor and unsatisfying
substitute for the deeper purposes and caring connections
to others that promote healthy well-being.
On the other side of the debate are arguments
that consumer societies offer unprecedented opportunities
for freedom of choice in how people
express their talents, interests, values, and personalities.
From this perspective, consumer goods
enhance, rather than constrain lifestyle alternatives.
The diversity and easy availability of products and
services supports highly individualized meanings of
a good life. Positive psychology does not settle
long-standing debates concerning the virtues and
vices of consumerism. However, research does offer
some clarification about who is most likely to
embrace the materialistic messages of consumer cultures
and, consequently, suffer their ill effects.
evidence suggests that materialism may find its
strongest support among insecure people. Doubts
about self-worth and acceptance by others, frustrated
needs, and economic hardship all appear to increase
the odds of adopting materialistic life goals (see
Kasser, 2002; Kasser & Kanner, 2004; Solberg et al.,
2004, for reviews). The compensation explanation,
discussed earlier, suggests that people may adopt
materialistic goals to compensate for negative feelings
related to insecurity and unmet needs. Expensive
possessions and a big salary may serve as vehicles for
obtaining social approval and a sense of self-worth
among people whose social and self-competence
needs have been frustrated or unfulfilled. This conclusion
is supported by research, which has found a
consistent relationship between unfulfilled basic
needs and materialistic values. Unmet needs are
assumed to create a sense of insecurity that may then
lead to material goals as compensation. Parenting
practices that do a poor job of meeting children’s
needs have been linked to a materialistic value orientation
among children. Parents who are overly
controlling, punitive, lacking in warmth, and unsupportive
of their children’s needs for independence
and autonomy increase the odds of materialistic aspirations
in their children. Increased materialism in
children is also associated with parental divorce.
Specifically, research findings suggest that this association
results more from the fact that divorce disrupts
the fulfillment of children’s basic needs for emotional
support, love and affection, than from reduced financial
resources. Research reviewed by Kasser and
Kanner (2004) also shows that people growing up in
poor families, in poor countries, and during hard economic
times tend to be more materialistic. It is not
hard to imagine that poverty and economic stress
would make people feel insecure and vulnerable,
and that materialistic life goals might become a compensating
MATERIALISM AND DEATH In his Pulitzer Prize winning
book, The Denial of Death, cultural anthropologist
Ernest Becker (1973) argued that fear of death
is the ultimate and universal source of human insecurity.
Freud focused on the conflicts and repressed
feelings surrounding sexuality and death as the
underpinnings of human behavior. In contrast,
Becker argued that many of humans’ individual and
collective actions are motivated by a need to deny
and blunt the fear caused by awareness of death as
an inevitable fact of life. The after-life of religions,
monuments from the Egyptian pyramids to modern
skyscrapers, and the celebration of cultural heroes
who triumph over threats to their destruction, all
serve to deny the reality of death by creating symbols
and icons suggesting that death can be transcended.
The symbolic message of such icons is that
we don’t really die. Because death is intimately connected
to nature, Becker viewed human efforts to
control and subdue the natural environment as also
expressing a death-defying motivation. Control over
nature gives the illusion of control over death.
Within contemporary psychology, terror management
theory has drawn on Becker’s insights in
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Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
148 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
describing how fear of death motivates attempts to
restore a sense of safety and security (Greenberg,
Solomon, & Pyszczynski, 1999; Solomon, Greenberg,
& Pyszczynski, 1991). Terror management theory
places fear of death in the context of evolution and
the unique ways that each species strives to ensure
its own self-preservation. Human survival depends
primarily on intelligence and sociability, because our
physical defenses are relatively weak compared to
other animals. The evolutionary perspective goes on
to suggest that, as intelligent social animals, our
ancestors developed tools, weapons, and housing,
and formed cooperative groups that promoted proliferation
and prosperous survival of the species.
Human intelligence, however, comes with a
price tag. Intelligence brings with it self-awareness of
being alive and the ability to contemplate our past,
present, and future. Awareness of our future includes
the certainty of our own death and the fact, as Becker
so bluntly put it, that we will all end up underground
as “food for worms” (1973, p. 26). Thinking of ourselves
as worm-food is certainly unpleasant, if not
repulsive. We are not likely to focus on this thought
for long before we shift our attention to something a
bit less gruesome. This mini-version of avoiding
thoughts of death exemplifies the assumptions and
logic of terror management theory. Humans share
with all living things a fundamental biological drive
for self-preservation, but humans are unique in their
awareness of eventual death. This awareness has the
potential to cause overwhelming and incapacitating
terror that must be “managed” to reduce and avoid its
potentially debilitating effects. Following Becker, terror
management theory states that all cultures
develop belief systems that serve as defenses against
the terror of death. These beliefs give meaning and
purpose to life and provide a basis for individual feelings
of self-esteem and enduring value. Terror management
theory predicts that confronting thoughts or
images of death creates feelings of insecurity that
motivate a defensive strengthening of worldviews
and self-esteem, in order to restore a sense of security.
Numerous studies provide support for these predictions
(see Greenberg et al., 1999; Solomon,
Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 2004).
What does anxiety about death have to do
with materialism? Since research has established
a general link between insecurity and materialism,
insecurities rooted in thoughts of death may also
increase materialistic aspirations. Money, status, and
possessions may provide a sense of safety and security.
To test this idea, Kasser and Sheldon (2000)
assessed the preexisting materialistic value-orientation
of college students by examining the relative importance
they placed on intrinsic goals (self-acceptance,
affiliation, community feeling) versus extrinsic goals
(financial success, attractive appearance, social recognition).
Students were then assigned to one of two
conditions. In the mortality salience condition, students
wrote about the prospect of their own death in
terms of the feelings it aroused and what they
believed would happen to their physical bodies after
death. In the control condition, students wrote about
listening to music. Next, students in both groups
were asked to estimate their financial situation
15 years in the future. Financial expectations included
their overall financial worth (salary, investments),
pleasure spending (travel, clothes, entertainment),
and the value of possessions (car, household possessions,
Consistent with predictions, students in the
mortality salience condition gave estimates of future
income and wealth that were considerably higher
than the estimates given by students in the control
group. In fact, in some cases, the estimates of students
who had written about death were nearly
twice as high as those who had written about listening
to music. This result seems to stem from the
effect of mortality salience, rather than from
students’ preexisting values. In other words, the
financial expectations expressed at the end of the
study were unrelated to students’ preexisting values,
as measured at the beginning of the study.
Further evidence for the effect of mortality
salience was shown in a second study by the same
authors. In this study, students were instructed to play
the role of company owners who were making bids
on timber harvest in a national forest. Students were
told that if their bids were too small their company
might not survive, but if all companies consistently
made large bids, the forest resource might be lost.
The researchers set up the same mortality salience
and control conditions, and used the same writing
assignments as they used in the study described
above. Again, the process of thinking about their own
death affected students’ responses. Students in the
mortality salience condition gave significantly higher
timber bids, suggesting increased feelings of greed
and a need to acquire more than others.
Solomon and his colleagues (2004), (the developers
of terror management theory) provide a speculative,
yet intriguing historical analysis of how
ISBN 1-256-51557-4
Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 149
death and materialism have become connected.
They argue that the appeal of conspicuous consumption
(buying well beyond one’s needs) may lie
in an unacknowledged, and perhaps unconscious,
connection of money and material possessions with
religion, spirituality, and the transcendence of death.
Drawing on the work of Ernest Becker and others,
their analysis suggests that the accumulation of
money and possessions has a consistent historical
link to prestige, symbolic meanings, and spirituality.
The concept of money as simply a vehicle for the
exchange of goods and services is actually quite
recent. In ancient Egypt, for example, gold was
largely ignored until it was used to replicate a shell
that symbolized life-sustaining powers that would
ward off death and prolong the existence of the
souls of the already dead. The word money, itself,
may have originated from the temple of Juno
Moneta in Rome, where priests set up the first mints
to produce coins. Coins were imprinted with images
of gods, kings, and other religious symbols.
If all this seems a bit far-fetched, Solomon
and his colleagues might ask you to examine the
back of a dollar bill. What are the phrase, “In God
We Trust” and a picture of pyramid with an eye at
the top doing on a dollar bill? One interpretation is
that these words and symbols connect money to
spirituality and immortality. The pyramid may represent
the path to immortality with the eye representing
the world of God that is open to those who
reach the top. Ernest Becker was convinced that
money and the ability to pass on accumulated
wealth to posterity were intimately bound up with
the denial of death and with attempts to achieve a
measure of immortality. You die, but your wealth
and possessions live on. Money undoubtedly does
contribute to a sense of security and control over
life. A fat bank account probably does bring some
comfort and a sense of security. The bottom line
for both Becker and terror management theory is
that, at some unconscious and symbolic level,
money increases our sense of personal significance
in the face of inevitable death.
Affluence and Materialism
The relationship between psychological insecurity
and materialism appears to be a two-way street. As
described above, insecurity is both a cause and a
consequence of materialistic aspirations. Insecurity
contributes to the adoption of materialistic goals
when people try to compensate for unmet needs
through financial strivings. Insecurity and unhappiness
are also consequences, because material aspirations
reduce the likelihood that important needs
will be fulfilled. The painful irony here is that materialism
seems to frustrate the satisfaction of the very
needs from which it originated. Recent studies by
developmental psychologists suggest an additional
irony to the materialism story. Not only is striving for
financial success associated with unhappiness, but
achieving it is also a potential source of problems
for affluent families. Children growing up in affluent
families may be at increased risk for a variety of
emotional and behavioral problems caused by the
beliefs and practices of their financially successful
parents. Whatever beliefs and motivations led to
parents’ financial success, and whatever affluent
parents may teach about material values, affluent
lifestyles may not be healthy for children.
In Chapter 6, we reviewed national statistics
showing that the nation’s increased affluence over the
last 50 years has not brought increased happiness.
In fact, affluence was associated with some amount of
increased misery in the form of higher rates of depression
and other personal problems, particularly among
young people. Recent investigations of affluent families
provide a more specific and revealing look at how
affluence may be connected to the problems of children
and youths. Despite the widespread assumption
that kids of well-to-do parents enjoy a “privileged status,”
Luthar (1999, 2003) reviews evidence showing
that many affluent children suffer more problems than
children of low-income families. One of these studies
(Luthar & D’Advanzo, 1999) compared lower socioeconomic
status (SES) inner-city teens to upper SES
youths living in the suburbs. Surprisingly, affluent
teens showed greater levels of maladjustment than
their low-income, inner-city counterparts. Specifically,
they reported higher rates of drug use (e.g., alcohol,
marijuana), higher levels of anxiety, and more depressive
symptoms. The findings regarding depression
among high-SES teens were particularly striking
because their depression levels were not only higher
than the inner-city group, but were also three times
higher than the national average. One in five (20%) of
the 10th-grade suburban girls in this study reported
clinically significant symptoms of depression. Levels
of anxiety among boys and girls in the affluent group
were also significantly above national averages. A
well-known study by Csikszentmihalyi and Schneider
(2000) also found lower levels of well-being among
ISBN 1-256-51557-4
Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
high- compared to low-income teenagers. Based on
experience sampling of moods and feelings of over
800 teens, these researchers found that the most affluent
teens reported the lowest levels of happiness and
those in the low-income group showed the highest
levels of happiness.
Why would affluent teens be unhappy? Two
preliminary explanations suggest that it is not affluence
per se, but the behaviors and expectations of
parents that are critical to youths’ adjustment. Luthar
argues that available research and observations of
family experts and clinical psychologists point to
achievement pressures and isolation from adult
supervision as probable causes of distress among
high-SES children. Some children face strong pressures
to excel in everything they do and much of
what they do is arranged by parents. The number of
private and public programs devoted to enhancing
children’s athletic, musical, learning, and growth
potentials has increased dramatically. Affluent parents
who make sure their kids are enrolled in as
many of these programs as possible may blur the
distinction between childhood and adulthood, making
children’s lives more like those of adults. Stress,
responsibility, pressures to succeed, and a day filled
with activities from morning until night may destroy
the idle play and innocence of childhood. Luthar
cites evidence suggesting that children faced with
these pressures suffer more stress-related illness,
from stomachaches and headaches to insomnia.
Children may even exaggerate these physical symptoms
in order to have an acceptable excuse for taking
time out from their hectic lives.
Children in other affluent families may experience
an opposite pattern. Two parents who work
long hours and come home late and tired may simply
not be optimally available to physically and emotionally
nurture and supervise their children. Such parents
may provide ample money, beautiful homes, cell
phones, computers, big-screen TVs, and cars to their
children, but may fail to supply the deep involvement
and careful supervision that kids need. The PBS documentary
examining The Lost Children of Rockdale
County (see Chapter 1) found that some affluent children
seem to lead empty lives. Their homes are
devoid of supervision; they lack sufficient contact
with their parents and their lives are empty of purpose
and direction, aside from whatever short-term
pleasures and diversions they may find with their
friends. Such teens desire connection, attention, and
a sense of direction from others. When parents do
not fulfill these needs, peers fill the void, much like
Cushman’s argument about consumption filling up
the empty self. Unfortunately, Rockdale County teens
filled up their lives with drug abuse, delinquency,
and sexual promiscuity.
Luthar cautions that the investigation of affluent
families is still in its very beginning stages.
So far, it is mostly people living in the northeastern
United States that have been studied. It is too early
to tell whether these findings reveal a general
pattern or one that applies only to a narrow range
of affluent families. Both longitudinal studies and
more detailed examinations of specific elements
of family life are needed to clarify the causal
variables involved. And certainly, there are affluent
families in which parents do manage to provide
effectively for the emotional needs of their
children. However, early indications are that the
lives of some affluent families may be a troubling
example of materialism and its discontents.
Are We All Materialists?
Several important qualifications must be made to
avoid overgeneralizing the negative effects of
materialism. Most people may be materialists in
the sense that they aspire to earn a good income
and own a nice house, car, and other possessions.
However, these aspirations, in and of themselves,
are not problematic. Recall that the negative
effects of materialistic values occur only for those
individuals who place financial aspirations, social
recognition, and appearances ahead of other
important psychological needs. It is this imbalance,
rather than material goals themselves, that
seems to cause unhappiness. It is also worth noting
that national surveys show a majority of
Americans to be reasonably happy and satisfied
with their lives (Diener & Diener, 1996). Over the
last 50 years, increased affluence and consumer
goods have not made us happier, but neither have
they made us less happy. Average Americans, on
the whole, do not appear to be suffering from
unhappiness caused by the type of excessive
materialism documented in research. This is not to
deny evidence for rising rates of depression, drug
use, and other personal problems among well-todo
young people that may document the potential
dark side of increasing affluence. However, most
of us would probably agree that our everyday
experience suggests that the lives of most people
150 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
ISBN 1-256-51557-4
Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
we encounter are not dominated by excessive
consumption. Instead, there seems to be a balance
between the material side of life and
involvements in meaningful activities, close relationships,
and intrinsically enjoyable experiences.
Recent studies also suggest that certain forms of
consumption may enrich, rather than detract from
the quality of people’s lives. “Experiential purchases,”
as VanBoven and Gilovich call them,
involve spending money on activities that provide
new experiences and knowledge, such as vacations,
or taking a class to learn a new skill or sport
(Van Boven, 2005; Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003).
Compared to “material purchases,” motivated by a
desire just to own a particular desirable object,
experiential purchases were associated with more
intrinsic enjoyment and positive social interactions
with others. Going out to dinner with
friends, touring a museum with your children,
and meeting new people by joining a club are
all examples of spending money on activities
that are enjoyable and that also contribute to
important social relationships. Experiential purchases
may also have more lasting effects than
material purchases because they are a source of
good stories and fond memories, even if they
were not pleasant at the time (e.g., a “camping
trip from hell”).
Chapter Summary Questions
Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being 151
1. a. How do goals connect the “having” and
“doing” sides of life?
b. How did Diener and Fujita’s study of college
students’ goals and resources show this
2. How are personal goals both cognitive and
3. How do personal goals capture the individualized
expressions of more general motives and
needs? Give an example.
4. How do researchers define and measure personal
goals? Give two examples.
5. According to Maslow and his hierarchy of
human needs, why is it difficult to study for an
exam if you have just broken up with your
romantic partner?
6. According to the cross-cultural research by
Sheldon and his colleagues, what four needs are
candidates for universal status?
7. Which of the 10 universal values described by
Schwartz are most important in your orientation
toward life? Describe and give examples.
8. a. What is the difference between intrinsic and
extrinsic goals, and between physical and
self-transcendent goals?
b. How may these dimensions represent a template
describing the content of human goals?
9. What are possible selves and how do they represent
the “personalization of goal” in selfconcept?
Explain and give an example.
10. Explain the matching hypothesis and give a
supporting research example.
11. How does each of the following explain the
matching hypothesis? Self-realization, intrinsic
goals, and autonomous motivation.
12. Describe examples of external, introjected, identified,
and intrinsic motives/reasons for attending
college and their relation to performance and
well-being outcomes.
13. a. What four life aspirations were assessed in
Kasser and Ryan’s classic study of the dark
side of the American dream?
b. What specific pattern of aspirations was
related to lower well-being?
14. How do the following help explain why materialists
are unhappy? The content of materialistic
goals (what); the motives for their pursuit (why);
and psychological insecurity.
15. How are consumer culture and psychological
insecurity related to the adoption of materialistic
life goals?
16. How do humans defend themselves against the
potentially incapacitating fear of death.
a. According to Ernest Becker?
b. According to terror management theory?
17. What historical examples and psychological
arguments connect money, gold, and materialism
to immortality, feelings of security, and the
denial of death?
18. Why might teens from affluent families have more
drug and emotional problems than their inner-city
counterparts? Describe two preliminary explanations
for these recent findings.
ISBN 1-256-51557-4
Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.
152 Chapter 7 • Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being
Key Terms
goals 126
personal projects 129
personal strivings 129
life tasks 129
values 132
intrinsic goals 135
extrinsic goals 135
possible selves 136
matching hypothesis 137
autonomous versus controlled
motivation 140
self-determination theory 141
external motives 141
introjected motives 141
identified motives 141
intrinsic motives 141
terror managment
theory 147
Web Resources
Personal Projects—Brian Little
www.brianrlittle.com Site for personal projects and
goal researcher Brian Little. Contains research articles
and downloadable measures of personal projects.
Self-Determination Theory
Web page covering research of Deci and Ryan at the
University of Rochester, focused on goals and
motives in relation to self-determination theory.
World Values Survey
www.worldvaluessurvey.org This site reviews
the findings of the on-going studies of the World
Values Surveys, a network of social scientists who
conduct large-scale national value surveys around
the world. Recent survey results, national comparisons,
and historical changes are described.
Suggested Readings
Becker, E. (1973). The denial of death. New York: Free
Emmons, R. A. (1999b). The psychology of ultimate concerns:
Motivation and spirituality in personality. New
York: Guilford Press.
Grouzet, F. M. E., Kasser, T., Ahuvia, A., Dols, J. M. F.,
Kim, Y., Lau, S. et al. (2005). The structure of goal contents
across 15 cultures. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 89, 800–816.
Kasser, T., & Kanner, A. D. (Eds.). (2004). Psychology and
consumer culture: The struggle for a good life in a
materialistic world. Washington DC: American
Psychological Association.
Kasser, T., & Ryan, R.M. (1993). A dark side of the
American dream: Correlates of financial success as a
central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 65, 410–422.
Little, B. R., Salmela-Aro, K., & Phillips, S. D. (2007).
Personal project pursuit: Goal action and human
flourishing. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Luthar, S. S. (2003). The culture of affluence: Psychological
costs of material wealth. Child Development, 74,
Markus, H., & Nurius, P. S. (1986). Possible selves.
American Psychologist, 41, 954–969.
Sheldon, K. M., & Houser-Marko, L. (2001). Self-concordance,
goal attainment, and the pursuit of happiness: Can
there be an upward spiral? Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 80, 152–165.
ISBN 1-256-51557-4
Positive Psychology, by Steve R. Baumgardner and Marie K. Crothers. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2009 by Pearson Education, Inc.



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