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The Factor Structure of Personal Goals Nick Stauner UC Riverside


The Factor Structure of Personal Goals Outline What are the essential themes of goals?  Answer must balance simplicity with exhaustiveness  Must facilitate analysis of individual differences  Must aim to explain and predict psychological outcomes

Existing motive structure theory Our lab’s work on goals Sample, factor analyses & results Interpretations Limitations & future directions


A priori theories of motive structure List of instincts (McDougall, 1908, 1933)  In one of the first social psychology textbooks

Life and Death Instincts (Freud, 1920) List of motives (Murray, 1938) Hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1943) List of “ergs” from factor analysis (Cattell, 1957, 1975)  The first a posteriori theory

Agency & Communion (Bakan, 1966; Hogan, 1983; Wiggins, 1991; Leary, 1956) Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000) Motivational Systems Theory (Ford, 1992)


Motive assessment instruments Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943)  Projective test  Sixteen ambiguous pictures

Edwards Personal Preference Schedule (1959)  Two hundred twenty-five forced-choice items

Personality Research Form (Jackson, 1984)  Describes trait-like tendencies  Not state-like motives, nor their objectives

Assessment of Personal Goals (Ford & Nichols, 1987)  Twenty-four five-item scales measuring goals from authors’ taxonomy  Items describe situations designed to activate goal-relevant “behavior episode schemata”


Previous analyses of goal structure  Principal components analysis of goal importance ratings (Richards, 1966)  8 factors: Prestige, Personal Happiness, Humanistic-Cultural, Religious, Scientific, Artistic, Hedonistic, Altruistic / Athletic Success (8th for females / males)  From 35 vocational, social, & personal goals of unspecified origin  12,432 college freshmen from all across the country!

 Principal components analyses of six goal ratings (Novacek & Lazarus, 1990)  6 factors: Affiliation, Power/Achievement, Personal Growth, Altruism, Stress Avoidance, Sensation-Seeking  Compiled 45 “commitment” items from goals, values, & personal projects literature

 Hierarchical cluster analyses and factor analyses of goal desire ratings (Wicker, Lambert, Richardson, & Kahler, 1984)  Clusters: Individual Striving vs. Harmony Seeking  Factors: Interpersonal Concern, Competitive Ambition, Exploration-play, Balanced Success, Economic Status, Intellectual Orientation  Chose 46 goals from a rationally generated list of 200  Added 10 more from students’ free-response lists of goals and independent informants’ rationally generated lists


Personal Action Constructs (PACs)  A general term for intentions to act (Little, 1999)      

Personal projects (McGregor & Little, 1998) Life tasks (Zirkel & Cantor, 1990) Personal strivings (Emmons, 1986, 1999) Current concerns (Klinger, 1977; Ruehlman, 1985) Core goals (Ford, 1992) Personal goals (Kaiser & Ozer, 1997)

 Volunteered in a free-response format using participants’ own words  Aggregated and boiled down to frequently volunteered goals  Organized by common themes into a hierarchical taxonomy

 Taxonomy features 8 major categories, each with subcategories 1. Academic / Occupational 3. Financial 5. Organization 7. Independence

2. Social Relationships 4. Health 6. Affect Control 8. Moral / Religious


The Personal Goals Questionnaire Includes most goals from our taxonomy  Sixty-five that could be generally, coherently phrased  E.g., “Do well in school,” “Help my romantic partner,” “Save money,” etc.

 Distinct as the most empirically generated goal list  Asks to rate current importance from 1 (“Not one of my goals currently”) to 5 (“Among my most important goals currently”)

Introduces new opportunities to analyze goals  Compare importance of all of students’ normative goals across individuals  Empirically categorize goals through factor analysis  Study conflict and tradeoffs in goal prioritization  Create scales for latent goal groups and tradeoffs  Correlate to other variables of interest


Sample N = 800 Young adults  Mean = 19.2 years ; standard deviation = 2.1 years  Age range: 17 – 46

Gender-balanced (61% female) Ethnically diverse & representative of UCR population 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

49% 24% 17% 6% 5%

Asian American Hispanic / Latino Caucasian African American other / mixed ethnicity

UCR undergraduates 1. 2. 3. 4.

57% 26% 12% 5%

freshmen sophomores juniors seniors


Ceiling effect Too many goals were rated “Among my most important currently”  Ninety-five participants said this of over half the goals! Twelve percent of the sample These participants’ data were excluded from analyses

Possibly an effect of fatigue  PGQ was always administered after numerous other questionnaires in these studies

Correlations with average importance rating:  Neuroticism (r = .21, p < .0001)  Age (r = -.09, p =.015)


Top 10 most important goals Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Personal goal item Do well in school Graduate and finish my education Spend more time studying Improve my academic skills (learn how to study more effectively) Use my time more effectively Plan my academic future Achieve a meaningful career goal Save money Get in better shape Maintain or improve my relationship with parents and/or siblings

Mean 4.69 4.49 4.41

SD N 0.67 692 0.92 692 0.80 689

4.33

0.92 691

4.30 4.22 4.13 3.97 3.93

0.90 0.90 1.20 1.01 1.07

3.91

1.09 693

693 693 693 692 692


Top 10 most EXTREME sex differences Personal goals more important to men

Point-Biserial Correlation

Play a sport or improve sports ability

.33

Find a romantic partner

.20

Enjoy thrilling activities (e.g., skydiving, hang-gliding, etc.)

.16

Participate more in sports, recreation, arts, or hobbies

.16

Personal goals more important to women

Point-Biserial Correlation

Lose weight

-.35

Have a better diet

-.28

Reduce the stress in my life

-.17

Spend more time studying

-.16

Plan my academic future

-.16

Finish a course assignment

-.15

Note. Overall N = 639. All correlation estimates are significant: p < .0001


Principal axis factor analysis of goals  N = 647 due to missing data (deleted listwise)  Four items with communalities below .25 were removed 1. 2. 3. 4.

“End a romantic relationship” “Control my temper” “Manage a chronic/specific health problem” “Reduce consumption of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco”

 Among the 12 least important goals  No consistent relationship with other 61 goals

 Scree test suggested 6 factors  After oblimin rotation, 7 were retained to improve interpretability and simplicity of structure  Less problematic to over-factor than under-factor


Seven oblimin-rotated goal factors 1. Self-enablement 

(10 goals)

Desire to overcome disabling feelings and more freely self-direct behavior

2. Academic achievement (9 goals) 

Oriented toward academic and career outcomes

3. Spirituality 

Largely religious in nature

4. Social participation 

(4 goals)

Aim to improve physical well-being and appearance

7. Family-building 

(6 goals)

Address present monetary concerns

6. Physical health 

(8 goals)

Seek active involvement and improved standing with one’s peers and community

5. Finances 

(3 goals)

(4 goals)

Focus on progressing in romantic relationships and building a family


Self-Enablement Personal goal item

Factor loading

Spend more time relaxing

.61

Reduce the stress in my life

.61

Stop worrying so much

.60

Do things for myself

.54

Be more assertive, self confident

.51

Be less shy, more talkative

.51

Have more fun in my life

.47

Figure out what my goals really are

.42

Get more sleep

.40

Be less dependent on or influenced by others

.35


Academic Achievement Personal goal item Plan my academic future Get into graduate/professional school to pursue an advanced degree Graduate and finish my education Spend more time studying Do well in school Achieve a meaningful career goal Improve my academic skills (learn how to study more effectively) Use my time more effectively Pursue a financially lucrative career

Factor loading .62 .61 .53 .53 .52 .47 .45 .42 .40


Spirituality Personal goal item

Factor loading

Maintain or strengthen my faith and/or religious beliefs

.90

Observe the tenets of my Religion

.88

Experience spiritual growth

.78


Social Participation Personal goal item

Factor loading

Do good for my community

.54

Participate in my social community

.52

Be respected or well-known in my community

.49

Find a romantic partner

.46

Participate more in sports, recreation, arts, or hobbies

.43

Play a sport or improve sports ability

.40

Make new friends

.38

Help my friend(s)

.35


Finances Personal goal item

Factor loading

Improve my current financial situation

.67

Increase my current income

.61

Save money

.53

Find or improve short-term employment

.50

Budget my money better

.42

Live independently from my parents

.40


Physical Health Personal goal item

Factor loading

Get in better shape

.63

Have a better diet

.59

Lose weight

.56

Maintain or improve my appearance

.55


Family-Building Personal goal item

Factor loading

Help my romantic partner

.68

Maintain or improve a romantic relationship

.63

Get married

.56

Have children

.51


Standardization & parceling Importance ratings were standardized within each participant Forced bipolar loadings on components  No clear solution identified Ambiguous number of uninterpretable components

Goals were parceled to reduce the number of items to be factored and accentuate their heterogeneity  Formed from the theoretical organization of the taxonomy  Twenty parcels of one to eight content-similar items each Standardized ratings of all goals were averaged for parcel scores


5 most and least important parcels Personal goal parcel title # Goals Mean Academic 8 0.73 Family 2 0.37 Future Financial Concerns 3 0.30 Practical Independence 3 0.24 Peers 3 0.22

SD Reliability 0.38 .64 0.61 .45 0.55 .16 0.50 .26 0.48 .38

Community Romance Give Financial Help Health Problem Future Family Concerns

0.66 0.66 0.65 0.65 0.76

2 3 2 2 2

-0.42 -0.42 -0.62 -1.01 -1.07

39 .12 .35 .14 .72

Note. Reliability = Spearman-Brown formula for standardized item alpha. N = 691


Principal axis factor analysis of parcels  N = 690  Twenty parcels of 1 – 8 goals each  All goals except “End a romantic relationship”

 Each factor contained parcels with strong positive and negative loadings  Rating one set of parcels as highly important often meant rating an opposing set as unimportant  Indicates dimensions of goal tradeoffs or conflict

 Scree test suggested 3 factors  Oblimin rotation 1. Spirituality versus Finances (3 parcels vs. 1) 2. Intimacy versus Self-Enablement (3 vs. 2 parcels) 3. Achievement versus Enjoyment (2 vs. 2 parcels)


Spirituality versus Finances Personal goal parcel

Factor loading

Religious

.62

Moral

.52

Community

.37

Immediate Finances

-.48


Intimacy versus Self-Enablement Personal goal parcel

Factor loading

Romance

.56

Immediate Finances

.46

Future Family Concerns

.41

Assert Influence

-.45

Negative Affect Control

-.46


Achievement versus Enjoyment Personal goal parcel

Factor loading

Academic

.68

Future Financial Concerns

.41

Peers

-.39

Enjoyment-Seeking

-.55


Interpreting bipolar factors Suggests conflict or tradeoffs in priorities may be essential aspects of the structure of motives  All goals draw from the same pool of resources

Inconclusive as to why these tradeoffs occur  Do the poles reflect preferences and personal values? Materialism vs. Spiritualism, Dependability vs. Independence, & Diligence vs. Enjoyment?

 Do the poles represent goals concerning more urgent problems or unmet needs? Communion vs. Poverty, Dependents’ Needs vs. Emotional Stabilization, Work Harder vs. Play Harder?


General limitations Only current, explicit goals assessed  No commonly met or implicit needs Underemphasized future goals?

 The usual limitations of self-report questionnaires Ambiguity of scale points & scores Confounds: self-serving bias, social desirability, etc.

Cross-sectional UCR convenience sample  Lacks diversity across age, cohort, occupation, educational level, geographic region, and language


Future directions  Need to extend theory and test for comprehensiveness  17 goals and 8 parcels need factorial homes

 Need more diverse samples to test for demographic differences  Need a longitudinal design to identify individual developmental trajectories  Will test replicability of all results in archived, current, and future data  Will query participants’ religious denomination, income, & romantic status  Will test relationships with free-response goal lists & ratings, goal conflict, and external variables  Personality, spirituality, presence & search for meaning & religiousness, life satisfaction, values


Correlations with the Big Five Trait Extraversion Significance Conscientiousness Significance Neuroticism Significance Agreeableness Significance Openness to experience Significance Note. N = 691

Spirituality Intimacy vs. Self- Achievement vs. Finances Enablement vs. Enjoyment .04 .13 .21 <.0001 .0006 .2942 .12

.08

.0017

.05

.0371

-.28

-.11

.08

<.0001

.0035 .12

-.09

.0010

.0456

.0418 .00

.0185

.9007

-.17

.10

.08

.1496

.0102

<.0001


Thank you! Dan Ozer Sonja Lyubomirsky & Robin DiMatteo Tierra Stimson Ryan Howell, Jacob Hershey, Patrick Markey, Michael Cassens Many cohorts of research assistants Friends and family And last but not least…  My gracious audience


10 most important goals: 1966 vs. Now Rank Richardsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 35 goals (1966)

Mean Personal goal item

Mean

1

Being a good parent

3.83 Do well in school

4.69

2

Being a good husband or wife

3.79 Graduate and finish my education

4.49

3

Becoming a mature and well-adjusted person 3.75 Spend more time studying

4

Finding a real purpose in life

3.74

5

Becoming happy and content

3.71 Use my time more effectively

Improve my academic skills (learn how to study more effectively)

Having the time and means to relax and 3.28 Plan my academic future enjoy life Doing something which will make my parents 7 3.20 Achieve a meaningful career goal proud of me 6

4.41 4.33 4.30 4.22

4.13

8

Keeping in good physical condition

3.18 Save money

3.97

9

Being well-liked

3.18 Get in better shape

3.93

10

Developing a meaningful philosophy of life

3.08

Maintain or improve my 3.91 relationship with parents and/or siblings

Note. Richardsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; scale is 1-4, N = 12,432; our scale is 1-5, N = 689-693


Top 10 largest sex differences of 1966 Personal goals more important to men

Difference in average

Being successful in a business of my own

0.67

Becoming an outstanding athlete

0.50

Becoming an export in finance and commerce

0.44

Having executive responsibility for the work of others

0.41

Making a technical contribution to science

0.40

Making a theoretical contribution to science

0.37

Becoming an authority on a special subject in my field

0.35

Becoming influential in public affairs

0.33

Personal goals more important to women Helping others who are in difficulty

Difference in average -0.37

Making sacrifices for the sake of the happiness of others -0.35 Note. Goals were rated on a scale from 1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 4. Overall N = 12,432 (Richards, 1966)


Top 10 largest sex differences of today Personal goals more important to men

Point-Biserial Correlation

Play a sport or improve sports ability

.33

Find a romantic partner

.20

Enjoy thrilling activities (e.g., skydiving, hang-gliding, etc.)

.16

Participate more in sports, recreation, arts, or hobbies

.16

Personal goals more important to women

Point-Biserial Correlation

Lose weight

-.35

Have a better diet

-.28

Reduce the stress in my life

-.17

Spend more time studying

-.16

Plan my academic future

-.16

Finish a course assignment

-.15

Note. Overall N = 639. All correlation estimates are significant: p < .0001

The Factor Structure of Personal Goals  

Nick Stauner (2009). Presented in the 10th Proseminar for Current Research in Personality Psychology of the Spring Quarter, June 4, Univers...

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