chapter  9
Differentiating and Integrating Levels of Goal Representation: A Life-Span Perspective
ByAlexandra M. Freund
Pages 24

When interviewing for a position some years ago, I was asked what my goals were: Where would I want to be in 10 years from now? What kind of research would I want to pursue in the future? What did I want to contribute to the discipline? I had just finished trying to provide answers to these questions on my future goals, when the interviewer asked me something along the following lines: “So, in your research, you focus on goals. I am wondering how much of our lives has anything to do with goals. Most people do not have goals. And even if they do, goals do not predict behavior very well.” I was somewhat puzzled by the apparent contradiction—hadn’t I just been asked about my goals? Was this just chit-chat or was there something diagnostic about my goals for how well I was suited for the job? Maybe because I was not offered the job or perhaps due to my bewilderment in the situation, the question has become a sort of theme for me since this interview. How much of our lives has anything to do with goals? Are goals constructions that participants in our studies have to build on the spot because we ask them 248to? Are goals an epiphenomenon, protecting the belief of free will or choice where, in actuality, cognition, behavior, emotions, and motivation are under the control of the environment (e.g., Bargh & Ferguson, 2000; Wegner, 2002)? How do goals develop and how are they embedded into the social context? Finally, do goals predict anything?