chapter  16
The Dynamics of Self-Regulation: When Goals Commit versus Liberate
Pages 22

G oals are considered the building blocks of human motivation, and over the last century research in the social sciences has used the con-cept of goals to account for people’s motivational responses, including evaluations, emotions, and behaviors (e.g., Ach, 1935; Atkinson, 1964; Austin & Vancouver, 1996; Bandura, 1986; Bargh, 1990; Carver & Scheier, 1998; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Fishbach & Ferguson, 2007; Gollwitzer, 1990; Higgins, 1997; James, 1890; Kruglanski, 1996; Lewin, 1926; Locke & Latham, 1990; Mischel, Cantor, & Feldman, 1996). Beginning with classic goal research, some of the eld’s important insights include identifying the criteria for goal selection (e.g., the expectancyvalue model, Atkinson, 1974; Tolman, 1932), the motivational force of unfullled goals (Atkinson & Birch, 1970; Lewin, 1926; Zeigarnik, 1927), and the inuence of goals on evaluation (James, 1890; Lewin, 1926, 1935) and information processing (Bruner, 1957). More recent goal research provides insights into the processes of goal setting and goal striving (Carver & Scheier, 1998; Förster, Liberman, & Higgins, 2005; Higgins, 1987, 1997; Gollwitzer, 1999; Kruglanski, 1996; Locke & Latham, 1990). And in line with the general theme of social psychology as the study of the situation, a large proportion of recent goal research concerns the situational variables that activate goals and govern goal pursuit, often outside of conscious awareness (e.g., Aarts & Dijksterhuis, 2000; Ferguson & Bargh, 2004; Chartrand & Bargh, 1996; Moskowitz, 2002; Shah, 2003).