The role of goals for development

Based on an action-theoretical perspective, we investigate how adults of different ages develop, select, pursue, and maintain personal goals in order to maximize developmental gains and minimize losses. We distinguish broadly between two levels of goals: Age-related expectations and personal goals. Age-related expectations are expressed in social norms and expectations, that reflect age-related opportunity structures as well as information about access to goal-relevant resources. Together with personal expectations about the sequencing of goals they determine which goals a person sets, pursues or disengagements from during a certain time their life. We investigate systematic age-related differences in goal setting and pursuit in different life contexts. In addition to explicit goals, values, and motives, behavior and experience are also influenced by automatic, implicit goals and motives. Research projects focus on:

  • Managing developmental gains and losses
  • The impact of subjective theories of aging and self-regulation on successful goal pursuit and development
  • Social motivation across adulthood