Rumination on personal goals: Unique contributions of organismic and cybernetic factors
School of Arts and Humanities
Prominent motivational theories explain ruminative thought in terms of problematic goal regulation. Cybernetic perspectives suggest that people ruminate about important goals on which progress is perceived to be unsatisfactory; organismic perspectives suggest that people ruminate about goals that are not sufficiently integrated within the self (i.e., goals pursued for controlled rather than autonomous reasons). We examined whether controlled reasons for goal pursuit are uniquely associated with goal rumination, independent of perceived goal progress and importance. Initially, 210 undergraduates listed ten goals, rated each on intrinsic, identified, introjected and external reasons for pursuit, and completed a trait rumination measure. One month later, participants rated the extent to which they had since ruminated about each goal and their goal progress. Controlled reasons were uniquely associated with goal rumination but not perceived progress, whereas autonomous motives were uniquely associated with goal progress but not rumination. Controlled reasons remained significantly associated with goal rumination after controlling for progress and importance, which were both positively associated with goal rumination. These findings, which emerged at the between-person (controlling for trait rumination) and within-person levels of analysis, further implicate poor goal internalization in rumination on goals, although the mechanisms underlying this association require further investigation.