Be careful what you wish for but also why you wish for it – Goal-striving reasons and subjective well-being


By Christian Ehrlich


Abstract: Individuals’ subjective well-being (SWB) when attaining their goals is moderated by the characteristics of their goals. Two significant moderators are whether goals are approach or avoidance oriented and their content. Within the goal-setting literature, these characteristics have been applied to goals as such, focussing on what it is people try to achieve. However, they can equally be applied to analyse why individuals pursue their goals. By applying the dimensions of approach and avoidance orientation as well as goal content to the analysis of goal-striving reasons, a framework has been developed encompassing the following four goal-striving reasons: goals pursuit because of pleasure, for altruistic reasons, out of necessity and for self-esteem reasons. The empirical findings (N = 174) show that goal-striving reasons are significantly associated with affective SWB. Therefore goal-striving reasons provide an additional level of analysis, when analysing the relation between goals and affective SWB.


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