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Age-related differences in outcome and process goal focus


Freund, Alexandra M; Hennecke, Marie; Riediger, M (2010). Age-related differences in outcome and process goal focus. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 7(2):198-222.

Abstract

Three studies report initial findings on age-related differences in goal focus. Study 1 compared younger (n = 23, 19-25 years) to older (n = 20, 57-78 years) adults regarding their preference for representations of goals in terms of the means (process focus) or the associated outcomes (outcome focus). As expected, older adults chose process descriptors of goals more frequently than younger adults. Study 2 investigated the emotional consequences of goal focus. Whereas younger adults (n = 49, 18-25 years) reported higher negative affect when they focused on the outcomes of a goal, older adults (n = 40, 60-88 years) reported higher positive affect when they focused on the process. Study 3, a 4-month longitudinal study, applied the distinction between process and outcome focus to the context of a personal goal in everyday life (starting to exercise). Older adults (n = 46, 55-78 years) reported having a stronger process focus than younger adults (n = 55, 19-25 years). Again, older adults were more likely to adopt a process than an outcome focus. For both age groups, process focus predicted positive goal-related development and affective well-being. In contrast, outcome focus was either not or negatively related to these outcomes.

Three studies report initial findings on age-related differences in goal focus. Study 1 compared younger (n = 23, 19-25 years) to older (n = 20, 57-78 years) adults regarding their preference for representations of goals in terms of the means (process focus) or the associated outcomes (outcome focus). As expected, older adults chose process descriptors of goals more frequently than younger adults. Study 2 investigated the emotional consequences of goal focus. Whereas younger adults (n = 49, 18-25 years) reported higher negative affect when they focused on the outcomes of a goal, older adults (n = 40, 60-88 years) reported higher positive affect when they focused on the process. Study 3, a 4-month longitudinal study, applied the distinction between process and outcome focus to the context of a personal goal in everyday life (starting to exercise). Older adults (n = 46, 55-78 years) reported having a stronger process focus than younger adults (n = 55, 19-25 years). Again, older adults were more likely to adopt a process than an outcome focus. For both age groups, process focus predicted positive goal-related development and affective well-being. In contrast, outcome focus was either not or negatively related to these outcomes.

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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:March 2010
Deposited On:02 Mar 2009 15:06
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:08
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1740-5610
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/17405620801969585
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-17173

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