The Determinants of Successful Goal Pursuit

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Download adobe Acrobat or click here to download the PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file.


Werner, Kaitlyn Marie




Goal pursuit is ubiquitous in everyday life, which has subsequently led to the proliferation of a multitude of theories and perspectives on what constitutes successful goal pursuit. While all of this work is indeed a testament to the centrality of goals in the context of motivational psychology, the problem, however, is that researchers often focus on only one particular theory while often ignoring other (possibly competing or overlapping) ideas. To address this concern, we conducted a prospective longitudinal study in order to determine which factors best predict goal progress over time. Participants (n = 799) were asked to set three week-long goals, as well as completed an extensive battery of measures, including 14 individual difference measures assessed at the between-person level and seven goal-specific measures assessed at the within-person level. Participants then reported how much progress they made on each of their goals at the end of the week. In keeping with best measurement practices, we first examined the validity of all self-report measures used in the study. Results indicate that the majority (92%) of individual difference measures demonstrated good internal consistency, although only a subset (71%) provided some evidence during more rigorous tests of validity. Upon examining the potential for overlapping constructs, three latent factors emerged providing evidence of substantial jangle-fallacies within the goal pursuit literature. Finally, using Bayesian model comparison we examined the extent to which these constructs predicted goal progress. Results indicate that people were more likely to make progress on the goals that they are committed to, have plans for, or that are more autonomous compared to their other goals. Additionally, we found that people who had specific plans for pursuing their goals, were more intrinsically oriented, experienced more competence in their daily life, experienced less frustration for their need for autonomy, and were able to re-engage in goals following failure made more progress on their goals compared to other people. The discussion focuses on implications of the present research on the field of self-regulation and goal pursuit, as well as measurement practices and theory development within social and personality psychology more broadly.


Psychology - Social
Psychology - Personality




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 


Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

Items in CURVE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. They are made available with permission from the author(s).