Self-regulatory responses to unattainable goals: The role of goal motives

Nikos Ntoumanis, Laura C. Healy, Constantine Sedikides, Alison L. Smith, Joan L. Duda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Does motivation for goal pursuit predict how individuals will respond when confronted with unattainable goals? Two studies examined the role of autonomous and controlled motives when pursuing an unattainable goal without (Study 1) or with (Study 2) the opportunity to reengage in alternative goal pursuit. Autonomous motives positively predicted the cognitive ease of reengagement with an alternative goal when the current goal was perceived as unattainable, especially when participants realized goal unattainability relatively early during goal striving. Autonomous motives, however, were negative predictors of cognitive ease of disengagement from an unattainable goal. When faced with failure, autonomously motivated individuals are better off realizing early the goal unattainability. Otherwise, they will find it difficult to disengage cognitively from the pursued goal (despite reengaging cognitively in an alternative goal), possibly due to interfering rumination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-612
Number of pages19
JournalSelf and Identity
Volume13
Issue number5
Early online date25 Feb 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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