How can we help people attain their goals?

My research seeks to answer this question by examining the process of goal pursuit from start to finish – that is, examining the contexts in which goals are set (where do our goals come from?), the specific goals that people pursue (how can we help people to set better goals?), as well as goal striving and self-regulatory processes (why do we pursue our goals and what are the most effective strategies for success?) that ultimately lead to the attainment of our goals.

The Motivational Dynamics of Self-Control

For this line of research, I am interested in examining the extent to which want-to versus have-to motivation influences how people respond to self-control conflicts in-the-moment. Specifically, I am interested in the following questions:​

  • Does want-to and have-to motivation differentially influence how people perceive temptations?

  • How often does motivation shift between want-to and have-to? Does the need for self-control occur as a function of these motivational shifts?

  • How can people strike the right balance between enjoying "temptations" and pursuing their goals?

Self-Regulatory Strategies

I am interested in examining the effectiveness of different self-regulatory strategies that can help people to overcome temptation and achieve their goals. Some of the questions I am interested in and am currently pursuing include: 

  • What strategies do people use in their everyday life when faced with temptations and/or in the pursuit of their goals?

  • How can we teach people to use strategies more adaptively? 

  • Does motivation influence strategy use? For example, is want-to motivation associated with "better" strategy use?

  • From a methodological perspective, what is the best way to assess strategies?

This work has been generously funded by the following institutions: