A Daily Diary Study of Goal Striving: The Relationship Between Goal Distance, Goal Velocity, Affect, Expectancies, and Effort

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A Daily Diary Study of Goal Striving: The Relationship Between Goal Distance, Goal Velocity, Affect, Expectancies, and Effort
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  ASDAILYDIARY STUDY OF GOALSTRIVING: THE RELATIONSHIPBETWEEN GOAL DISTANCE, GOAL VELOCITY, AFFECT,EXPECTANCIES, AND EFFORT David J. Holman, Peter Totterdell andSteven G. Rogelberg ABSTRACT A dailydiarystudywasusedtoexaminetherelationshipsbetweengoal distance,goalvelocity,aSfect,expectancies,andeffortfromtheperspec- tiveofCarverandScheier's (1998) controltheoryofself-regulation. Fifteensocialworkers completedadiaryattheendofeachworkingday forfourweeks.Multi-levelanalysisfoundlittlesupportfortheprecice predictionsofCarverandScheier'stheory,butdidsupporttheideathat discrepancyreductionplaysaroleinregulatingbehavior.Expectancies hadastrongassociationwitheffort,andaffectmoderatedthisrelation- ship.Theinteractionindicatedthathighexpectanciessuppressthesig- nallingeffectsofaffect,preventingtheindividualfrombeingconsumed byimmediatereactionstosituationaleventsandenablingefforttobe sustained. The Effect of Affect in Organizational SettingsResearch on Emotion in Organizations, Volume 1,95121Copyright 0 005 by Elsevier Ltd. All rights of reproduction in any form reservedISSN: 1746-9791/doi:10.1016/S1746-9791(05)01105-3 95  DAVID J. HOLMAN ET AL. INTRODUCTION Employees'affectiveexperiencesandlevelsofmotivationarerarelystatic. Theymayfeelanxiousinthemorningandbecomecalmerintheafternoon, andtheymayworkhardinoneweekandnotthenext.Knowingwhyand howthisvariationoccurs,andhowaffectand motivationarerelated,is clearlyofkeyimportancetoorganizationalresearchersandpractitioners. Onetheorygainingincreasingattentionasa meansof understandingfluc- tuationsinaffectandmotivationisCarverandScheier'scontroltheoryof self-regulation(Carver & Scheier,1998;Wyer,1999).Thistheoryisattrac- tiveasitoffersaparsimoniousanddynamicapproachtoexplaininghow affectandexpectanciesofsuccessarisewithintheindividual,andhowaffect andexpectanciesalterindividualeffortintheprocessofstrivingtowarda goal.Thischapterpresentsastudywhichfocusesonthesekeyaspectsof the theory.VancouverandPutka(2000)havenotedthattestsofdynamictheories suchascontroltheoriesrarelyusemethodologiesthatproperlyexamine within-person processes.Furthermore,CarverandScheier'smodelshould, theoretically,applytoarangeofcontexts,butexistingtestshavebeen laboratory-basedandhaveusedtaskswithrelativelyshort-timespans(i.e., hourly)andwithonepredominantgoal(cf.Kernan & Lord,1990).There-fore,thisstudycombinedanexperience-basedsamplingmethod(i.e.,adiary method)withmulti-levelanalysestofocusondailygoalstrivingin anap- pliedworksettingwhereemployeeshadmultipledailygoals.Byfocusingon affect,expectancies,andeffortindailygoalstrivingatwork,theaimofthis studywastoexaminekey aspectsofCarverandScheier'scontroltheoryin anappliedsettingforthefirsttime. Carver and Scheier's Control Theory ofSelf-RegulationAttheheartofcontroltheoriesofself-regulation,ofwhichCarverand Scheier'stheoryisanexample,istheideathatbehaviorisregulatedbya negativefeedbackloop(Carver & Scheier,1998;Edwards,1998;Powers, 1973).CarverandScheiercallthisfeedbacklooptheactionsystem(see Fig.1).Theprincipalfunctionoftheactionsystemistoprovidefeedbackon thediscrepancybetweenanindividual'sgoalandhisorhercurrentposition in relationtoit(i.e.,tomonitorthepsychologicalequivalentofdistance), andtoreduceanydiscrepancy.UsingCarverandScheier's terms,thisoc- cursbyaninputfunctiondetectinginformationfromtheenvironment.  A Daily Diary Study of Goal Striving I Action System I Actionrefe~encevalue I Disturbance 1 RatereferencevalueEffect on Fig. I. Schematic Representation of Action System and Rate System. Based onCarver and Scheier (1999, p. 143). Effect on A comparator then compares this information with a reference value orgoal. If a discrepancy is detected, an output function (e.g., a behavior) isproduced, the aim of which is to reduce the discrepancy. A distinguishing feature of Carver and Scheier's version of control theoryis that each action system is accompanied by a rate system. This chapterconcentrates on the rate system, as it is concerned principally with affect,expectancies, and effort. The rate system monitors the action system andcompares the rate of progress of the action system against a referent value.Carver and Scheier suggest that if the action system deals with distance, thenthe rate system deals with the speed of goal progress(i.e., goal velocity).When goal velocity is above or below a referent value, the rate system hastwo main outputs: affect and expectancy (which is considered to be a hazysense of confidence or doubt about the likelihood of an outcome) (Carver & Scheier, 1998). \ omparatorenvironment - nput 4 v v 4 b comparator - Action Outputeg. behaviourprogress / Rate Outputeg. affect,expectancyandeffort  DAVID J. HOLMAN ET AL. Another distinguishing feature of Carver and Scheier's version of controltheory is the central role given to approach and avoidance goals in theproduction of affect. Movement in relation to approach and avoidancegoals is seen to determine two major dimensions of affect, depression andenthusiasm, and anxiety and contentment (Warr, 1990). The affective con-sequences of goal velocity in relation to approach and avoidance goals areas follows: When a person moves toward an approach goal faster thanexpected, enthusiasm arises; and when a person moves toward an approachgoal slower than expected, or away from it, depression arises. For anavoidance goal, when a person moves toward it faster than expected, anxietyarises; and when a person moves toward an avoidance goal at a rate slowerthan expected, or away from it, contentment arises. For both types of goal,when progress is at the' expected rate, there are no affective consequences.The action and rate systems work in concert with each other to regulatebehavior. The action system controls the directional function of motivation(e.g., choosing behavior among options) and the rate system controls theintensity function of motivation (e.g., effort, concentration) through its ef-fects on affect and expectancy. Affect is seen to impact on effort in thefollowing manner: "If you are going too slowly toward some goal, negativeaffect arises. You respond by putting in more effort into your behavior,trying to speed up (cf. Cervone, Kopp, Schaumann, & Scott, 1994). If you . are going too fast, positive affect arises, and you respond by coasting"(Carver & Scheier, 1998, p. 133). Depression and anxiety, therefore, signaleither movement away from a desired goal or slower than expected progress,and that increases in effort are required. Contentment and enthusiasm signala move toward a desired goal and that decreases in effort are required(Fridja, 1986). With regard to expectancies, if they "are sufficiently positive,the person returns efforts toward the goal. If expectancies are sufficientlynegative, the result is to disengage from further effort" (Carver & Scheier,1998, p. 18 1). It should be noted that although affect and expectancies havea common srcin in the rate system, each has a different .implication foreffort. Positive states of affect lower effort, whereas high expectanciesincrease effort.From the above description, four key aspects of Carver and Scheier'stheory are apparent: the effect of the rate system (i.e., goal velocity) onaffect; the role of approach and avoidance goals in affective experience; theeffect of the rate system on expectancy, and; the influence of affect andexpectancies on effort. Evidence is accumulating concerning one of thesekey aspects, namely, that goal velocity is associated with affect and, inparticular, that going slower than expected is associated with negative mood  A Daily Diary Study of Goal Striving and dissatisfaction (Gollwitzer & Rohloff, 1999; Hsee & Abelson, 1991;Hsee, Salovey, & Abelson, 1994; Lawrence, Carver, & Scheier, 2002). Fur:ther empirical examination of these four key aspects is clearly needed, andeach is addressed in this chapter.A general issue relates to the range of contexts in which the theoryhqsbeen tested. Existing studies have only included goals with relatively shorttime-spans (e.g., hourly), and have been conducted in contexts with onepredominant goal, and used goals not chosen by participants as personallyrelevant (Gollwitzer & Rohloff, 1999; Hsee & Abelson, 1991; Hsee, Salovey & Abelson, 1994). Carver and Scheier's theory should generalize to goalswith different time frames (e.g., daily, monthly) and in contexts with mul-tiple personally relevant goals. It is particularly important to test Carver & Scheier's theory in a multi-goal environment. Kernan and Lord (1990) dis-covered that while control theory predicted behavior in single-goal envi-ronments, this was not the case in multi-goal environments. In multi-goalenvironments, socio-cognitive theories of self-regulation provided a moreaccurate account of behavior (Bandura, 1997). Therefore, we focus on dailywork goals, chosen by participants as relevant to personal performance, andstudy this in an occupational context where employees have numerousgoals. Goal Velocity and Affect Based on their theoretical model, Carver and Scheier (1990) are fairly ex-plicit in suggesting that goal velocity is a prime determinant of affect andthat goal distance, which is monitored by the action system, shouldhave no relationship to affect. This contradicts research on the relationshipof goal distance and goal progress to well-being. People who are nearer to agoal and/or who make greater progress toward a personal goal (i.e., becomenearer) have better levels of well-being (Emmons, 1986; Higgins, 1996;Maier & Brunstein, 2001; Sheldon & Kasser, 1998). While goal velocity andgoal distance may be independently related to affect (Hsee & Abelson,1991), it is difficult to reconcile the difference between research on goaldistance and Carver and Scheier's theoretically based propositions. The is-sue is important because, if distance is associated with affect, then the actionsystem is implicated in its production, and a central part of Carver andScheier's theory is undermined. Therefore, the first hypothesis is: Hypothesis 1. Goal velocity will be associated with affect and goal dis-tance will not.
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