Setting Goals and Making Plans:
How Children and Adolescents
Frame Their Decisions
Kathleen M. Galotti
Research on the development of decision-making skills and attitudes rests on the premise that good decisions are those that furthers one's own goals (Bandura, 1989, 2001; Byrnes, 1998; Byrnes, Miller, & Reynolds, 1999; Galotti, 2002; von Winterfeldt & Edwards, 1986; Zimmerman, 2001). Yet, quite little is known about how goal setting actually develops. Much of the existing literature on goal setting and planning (e.g., Ellis & Siegler, 1997; Friedman & Scholnick, 1997; Gauvain & Rogoff, 1989; Hudson, Shapiro, & Sosa, 1996; Kahle & Kelley, 1994) presents children with tasks in which goals are given, or constrained to a particular domain, such as doing homework. In contrast, little is known about the types of goals elementary and secondary aged students set for themselves, or about their approaches to, and successes at, planning to meet their goals. In this chapter, I describe two investigations that address some of these questions.
The processes by which people formulate and attempt to attain goals has received much attention in the psychological literature. Miller, Galanter, and Pribram (1960) created the widely regarded seminal work on goal-directed behavior, but the centrality of goals to other psychological constructs goes back much further. William James (1890/1983) argued that "the pursuance of future ends and the choice of means for their attainment are thus the mark and criterion of the presence of mentality" (p. 21), thus thrusting the