Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Goal Orientation, Emotion Regulation Strategies, and Affective Responses

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Goal Orientation, Emotion Regulation Strategies, and Affective Responses

Article excerpt

Goal orientation (GO) theory has been used to distinguish between two types of goals that an individual may adopt in a challenging situation. The first is a performance goal orientation (PGO), defined as a self-worth goal for a single domain of ability. Individuals who take a PGO aim to prove their abilities and avoid evidence that they are inadequate (Dweck, 1999; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). The second is the learning goal orientation (LGO), defined as a striving to increase one's competence, cultivate existing abilities, and develop and master new skills or tasks. Individuals who approach problems with a LGO aim to improve their ability and relish opportunities for growth (Dweck, 1999; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Molden & Dweck, 2006). Performance and learning goals have been researched extensively, as they correspond to skills and successes in a variety of social (Ryan & Shim, 2008), athletic (Guan, Xiang, McBride & Keating, 2013), occupational (Button, Mathieu, & Zajac, 1996), and academic domains (Ames & Archer, 1988; Dykman, 1998; Niiya, Crocker, & Bartmess, 2004). While significant evidence has linked GO to psychological outcomes (i.e., depression, self-esteem), there are limited data examining goals specific to emotion regulation. The present study examines the interaction between natural trait and imposed state GO on the regulation of affect during a mood induction task.

Goal Orientation

While similar in name, PGO and LGO appear to exist as two independent constructs that are not well correlated (Ames & Archer, 1998; Button et al., 1996), or correlated to a small degree (Payne, Youngcourt, & Beaubien, 2007).The PGO can be viewed as a cognitive vulnerability associated with increased levels of negative affect, self-doubt, self-blame, dysphoria, and sustained depressive symptoms following a stressor or failure (Dykman, 1998; Lindsay & Scott, 2005; Niiya, Crocker, & Bartmess, 2004; Rothbaum, Morling, & Rusk, 2009; Rusk & Rothbaum, 2010). This individual will tend towards stable, global causes when attributing the negative results they have received and considering implications for the future (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Haeffel, Abramson, Brazy, & Shah, 2008; Mangels, Butterfield, Lamb, Good, & Dweck, 2006). PGO has also been characterized as a risk factor for depression, while the LGO is seen as a resistance factor (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dykman, 1998; Grant & Dweck, 2003).

Both PGO and LGO exist in both trait and state (situationally imposed) form (Ames & Archer, 1988; Fridhandler, 1986; Payne, Youngcourt, & Beaubien, 2007). Research examining the interaction between trait and state GO has yielded mixed results. Studies suggest that a non-congruent coupling between one's natural trait orientation and an imposed state orientation may yield ideal results with regards to skill acquisition and the development of self-efficacy when learning a task (Chen & Mathieu, 2008; Kozlowski et al., 2001). However, a meta-analysis by Payne et al. (2007) found that matching trait and state orientations may be more beneficial based on evidence indicating their similarity in affecting these types of outcomes.

Emotion Regulation

To facilitate emotion regulation, various strategies are used to successfully modulate our emotional experience in response to emotional events (Gross, 1998). An adaptive emotion regulation strategy is one that is associated with better outcomes such as reduced negative affect and good interpersonal functioning (Aldao, Nolen-Hoeksema, & Schweizer, 2010). In contrast, a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy is one that is associated with negative long-term outcomes such as increased negative affect and psychopathology (Aldao et al., 2010; Gross & John, the outcome of an emotional situation (Aldao et al., 2010), and cognitive 2003; Nolen-Hoeksema, Stice, Wade, & Bohon, 2007). …

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