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Managing conflicting goals through prioritization? The role of age and relative goal importance


Freund, Alexandra M; Tomasik, Martin J (2021). Managing conflicting goals through prioritization? The role of age and relative goal importance. PLoS ONE, 16(2):e0247047.

Abstract

Three studies tested the role of prioritization in solving conflict between multiple goals in different age groups. Study 1 (N = 185 young, middle-aged, older adults) stressed the importance to solve two competing tasks equally well within a short time. Older adults prioritized more than younger adults. However, contrary to our expectations, prioritization led to higher perceived conflict, more negative affect, and less control. Study 2 (N = 117 younger and older adults) found that, using a more lenient instruction, deemphasizing the importance of performing equally well on both tasks, prioritization was no longer associated with perceived goal conflict. Study 3 (N = 721 young, middle-aged, older adults) was an online study using hypothetical scenarios. This study was run to substantiate the potential mechanism underlying the differences between Study 1 and 2 and supported the hypothesized effect of the instructional strictness of pursuing two goals. Thus, when encountering conflicting goals older adults prioritize more than younger adults, but prioritization might not be optimal for solving short-term goal conflict when both conflicting goals are equally important.

Abstract

Three studies tested the role of prioritization in solving conflict between multiple goals in different age groups. Study 1 (N = 185 young, middle-aged, older adults) stressed the importance to solve two competing tasks equally well within a short time. Older adults prioritized more than younger adults. However, contrary to our expectations, prioritization led to higher perceived conflict, more negative affect, and less control. Study 2 (N = 117 younger and older adults) found that, using a more lenient instruction, deemphasizing the importance of performing equally well on both tasks, prioritization was no longer associated with perceived goal conflict. Study 3 (N = 721 young, middle-aged, older adults) was an online study using hypothetical scenarios. This study was run to substantiate the potential mechanism underlying the differences between Study 1 and 2 and supported the hypothesized effect of the instructional strictness of pursuing two goals. Thus, when encountering conflicting goals older adults prioritize more than younger adults, but prioritization might not be optimal for solving short-term goal conflict when both conflicting goals are equally important.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2021
Deposited On:23 Feb 2021 15:47
Last Modified:01 Apr 2021 16:34
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0247047
PubMed ID:33606772

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