The Psychology of Goals  book cover
1st Edition

The Psychology of Goals

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ISBN 9781606230299
Published February 27, 2009 by Guilford Press
548 Pages

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Book Description

Bringing together leading authorities, this tightly edited volume reviews the breadth of current knowledge about goals and their key role in human behavior. Presented are cutting-edge theories and findings that shed light on the ways people select and prioritize goals; how they are pursued; factors that lead to success or failure in achieving particular aims; and consequences for individual functioning and well-being. Thorough attention is given to both conscious and nonconscious processes. The biological, cognitive, affective, and social underpinnings of goals are explored, as is their relationship to other motivational constructs.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Four Themes in the Study of Goals, Gordon B. Moskowitz and Heidi Grant

I. What (and Where) Are Goals?

1. What Is So Special (and Nonspecial) about Goals?: A View from the Cognitive Perspective, Arie W. Kruglanski and Catalina Kopetz

2. Goals in the Context of the Hierarchical Model of Approach–Avoidance Motivation, Andrew J. Elliot and Daniela Niesta

3. Goal-Content Theories: Why Differences in What We Are Striving for Matter, Heidi Grant and Laura Gelety

4. The Neuroscience of Goal Pursuit: Bridging Gaps between Theory and Data, Elliot T. Berkman and Matthew D. Lieberman

5. The Selfish Goal, John A. Bargh and Julie Y. Huang

II. How Are Goals Selected?

6. Fantasies and Motivationally Intelligent Goal Setting, Gabriele Oettingen and Elizabeth J. Stephens

7. How Does Our Unconscious Know What We Want?: The Role of Affect in Goal Representations, Ruud Custers

8. Goal Priming, Gordon B. Moskowitz and Yuichu Gesundheit

9. Moments of Motivation: Margins of Opportunity in Managing the Efficacy, Need, and Transitions of Striving, James Y. Shah, Deborah Hall, and N. Pontus Leander

III. How Are Goals Pursued?

10. Five Markers of Motivated Behavior, Leonard L. Martin and Abraham Tesser

11. Normal and Pathological Consequences of Encountering Difficulties in Monitoring Progress toward Goals, Nira Liberman and Reuven Dar

12. The Compensatory Nature of Goal Pursuit: From Explicit Action to Implicit Cognition, Gordon B. Moskowitz

13. When Persistence Is Futile: A Functional Analysis of Action Orientation and Goal Disengagement, Nils B. Jostmann and Sander L. Koole

14. Goal Implementation: The Benefits and Costs of If–Then Planning, Elizabeth J. Parks-Stamm and Peter M. Gollwitzer

15. Regulatory Focus: Classic Findings and New Directions, Jens Förster and Lioba Werth

IV. Consequences of Goal Pursuit

16. Self-Regulatory Resource Depletion: A Model for Understanding the Limited Nature of Goal Pursuit, Kathleen D. Vohs, Andrew M. Kaikati, Peter Kerkhof, and Brandon J. Schmeichel

17. Goals and (Implicit) Attitudes: A Social-Cognitive Perspective, Melissa J. Ferguson and Shanette C. Porter

18. Mystery Moods: Their Origins and Consequences, N. Pontus Leander, Sarah G. Moore, and Tanya L. Chartrand

19. Regulatory Fit in the Goal-Pursuit Process, E. Tory Higgins

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Gordon B. Moskowitz, PhD, is a social psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at Lehigh University. His research examines the relationship between social cognition and goals, with particular emphasis on the implicit nature of each. Person perception, social judgment, stereotyping, and stereotype control are typically used as the content areas in which these issues are explored. Dr. Moskowitz has received funding from the German Science Foundation and the National Science Foundation to support this research. He is currently investigating the implicit nature of control and self-regulation, with a focus on creativity goals and egalitarian goals and the impact of each on controlling stereotyping.

Heidi Grant, PhD, is a social psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Lehigh University. Her primary interest lies in understanding individual responses to setbacks and challenges, and how these responses are shaped by the types of goals pursued. Dr. Grant’s research, funded by the National Science Foundation, has explored how goal content impacts self-regulation, achievement, person perception, persuasion, and well-being. She is currently investigating the impact of goal difficulty and obstacles to the pursuit of achievement goals, and the development of a successful classroom learning goal intervention.


Every moment of waking life, our behavior, thinking, and emotions are oriented and regulated by goals--whether we are aware of it or not. Goals are the system units of human functioning. This book offers the most definitive, state-of-the-art treatment of the topic that I have seen in decades, from a collection of stellar researchers and thinkers. It is a field-renewing book that will launch a flotilla of new research.--Claude Steele, PhD, Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, Stanford University

The study of goals is at the heart of understanding human behavior in a social context. This unique, timely book surveys the cognitive and motivational components of goal-directed behavior. Distinguished scientists and researchers contribute state-of-the-art presentations in their respective areas of expertise. Chapters provide insightful and challenging perspectives on central topics in contemporary research on goals, such as evolution, brain, affect, perception, memory, representation of knowledge, executive control, and conscious versus nonconscious processes.--Henk Aarts, PhD, Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

'Do you know what you want?' This is not just a question posed by an impatient restaurant server. Knowing what we want is the center of our psychological life, and the degree to which we are conscious or unconscious of our goals is an issue of enduring concern. This book chronicles emerging breakthroughs in several fields to offer striking new insights on how goals operate in the mind.--Daniel M. Wegner, PhD, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

This handbook of goals research is an idea whose time has come. This comprehensive work will inform psychological scientists of all stripes: neuro-, behavioral, cognitive, social, personality, and clinical scientists all will find something useful and new here. Everyone from students to experts will want to have this readable and authoritative source in their classes, in their libraries, and on their desks.--Susan T. Fiske, PhD, Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology, Princeton University