Goal motives in depression and anxiety: The mediating role of emotion regulation difficulties
Taylor & Francis
School of Arts and Humanities
Objectives: Goal orientation (approach versus avoidance) and difficulties in emotion regulation have been independently associated with depression and anxiety. However, there is a lack of research that has simultaneously examined approach and avoidance goal motives and emotion regulation difficulties in depression and anxiety. The present study aims to draw together these separate lines of investigation to better understand the nature of depression and anxiety from a motivational and emotional regulation perspective. Specifically, it aims to investigate whether increased emotion regulation difficulties indirectly mediate, in part, distinct relationships between approach and avoidance goal motives and depressive and anxious symptoms. Method: An online study comprised 210 participants recruited via Facebook and MTurk. Participants completed self-reported measures to rate their approach and avoidance goal motives, emotion regulation and depressive and anxious symptoms. Results: Counter to prediction, no significant relationship was demonstrated between impaired approach motives and increased depressive symptoms. However, as predicted, avoidance goal motives were associated with depressive and anxious symptoms. Further, increased emotion regulation difficulties indirectly mediated relationships between avoidance goal motives and both depressive and anxious symptoms. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that emotion regulation difficulties play a significant role in explaining the relationship between avoidance (but not approach) oriented motives in goal pursuit and emotional symptom.