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Which factors are associated with monitoring goal progress?

Chang, BPI and Webb, TL and Benn, Y and Stride, CB (2017) Which factors are associated with monitoring goal progress? Frontiers in Psychology, 8. ISSN 1664-1078

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Abstract

© 2017 Chang, Webb, Benn and Stride. Three studies examined how people assess their progress on personal goals (e.g., whether they compare their progress to the past and/or to a desired target state), along with factors that might influence the nature of progress monitoring (e.g., whether the goal involves attaining a positive outcome or avoiding a negative outcome). Study 1 involved semi-structured interviews with 40 participants, in which we examined how participants monitored their progress and whether this was related to: (a) their level of self-efficacy, (b) whether the goal was prevention focused, and (c) whether goal progress was represented in quantifiable terms. Studies 2 (N = 492) and 3 (N = 481) were conducted online and additionally examined whether how participants monitored their progress differed as a function of the domain of the goal (i.e., whether it was related to physical development/health, finances, work/study, or social relationships). The findings suggest that participants: (i) were less likely to monitor their progress toward goals that were related to avoiding negative outcomes, (ii) were less likely to monitor their progress toward goals related to finances, work, or study with reference to the past, than progress toward other goals (e.g., those relating to physical development and health), (iii) found it easier to monitor their progress toward goals that they felt confident of attaining, but harder to monitor their progress toward goals related to work or study. Finally, the more participants thought about their goal in quantifiable terms, the more likely they were to monitor their progress, and the easier they found monitoring their progress to be. Taken together, these studies begin to describe the nature of progress monitoring and the factors that influence this important self-regulatory process.

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