Goal focus

Goals are cognitive representations of desired end-states linking means and outcomes. What determines whether people focus more strongly on the means or the outcomes of goal pursuit? Is it more adaptive to have a strong and clear representation of the consequences of goal pursuit (i.e., outcome focus) or is it more important for subjective well-being, persistence in goal pursuit, and goal achievement to focus primarily on the process of goal pursuit? We posit that the predominant goal focus and its adaptiveness depends on age and motivational phase (e.g., approaching a deadline), goal characteristcs (e.g., goal difficulty) and context (e.g., degree of autonomy). We investigate goal focus and its adaptiveness across the life span related to the following phenomena: