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Goal disengagement in emerging adulthood: The adaptive potential of action crises


Brandstätter, Veronika; Herrmann, Marcel (2016). Goal disengagement in emerging adulthood: The adaptive potential of action crises. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 40(2):117-125.

Abstract

In emerging adulthood, being committed to and making progress on important personal goals constitutes a source of identity and well- being. Goal striving, however, does not always go without problems. Even though highly committed to a goal, individuals may experience recurring setbacks and, consequently, increasing doubts about the goal that might culminate in an action crisis, that is, an intra-psychic decisional conflict about whether to disengage from or to continue on their way. Action crises have been shown to lead to negative consequences on well-being and performance. Besides these negative consequences, however, an action crisis is hypothesized to have an adaptive side that is addressed in the present paper. Actively questioning the pursuit of a goal should allow for weighing up the focal goal against alternative and possibly more desirable goals. This open-minded re-evaluation, in the event of goal disengagement, is assumed to avoid the emergence of action crises in subsequently formed goals. As expected, in a longitudinal study over one and a half years with n 1⁄4 207 freshman students, the degree of experienced action crisis prior to goal disengagement predicted the desirability and decisional certainty of the subsequently formed alternative goal. Theoretical implications of the results for research on self-regulation and identity formation in emerging adulthood are discussed.

Abstract

In emerging adulthood, being committed to and making progress on important personal goals constitutes a source of identity and well- being. Goal striving, however, does not always go without problems. Even though highly committed to a goal, individuals may experience recurring setbacks and, consequently, increasing doubts about the goal that might culminate in an action crisis, that is, an intra-psychic decisional conflict about whether to disengage from or to continue on their way. Action crises have been shown to lead to negative consequences on well-being and performance. Besides these negative consequences, however, an action crisis is hypothesized to have an adaptive side that is addressed in the present paper. Actively questioning the pursuit of a goal should allow for weighing up the focal goal against alternative and possibly more desirable goals. This open-minded re-evaluation, in the event of goal disengagement, is assumed to avoid the emergence of action crises in subsequently formed goals. As expected, in a longitudinal study over one and a half years with n 1⁄4 207 freshman students, the degree of experienced action crisis prior to goal disengagement predicted the desirability and decisional certainty of the subsequently formed alternative goal. Theoretical implications of the results for research on self-regulation and identity formation in emerging adulthood are discussed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:27 Aug 2015 10:46
Last Modified:25 Nov 2016 12:01
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:0165-0254
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025415597550

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