The Process of Disengagement From Personal Goals: Reciprocal Influences Between the Experience of Action Crisis and Appraisals of Goal Desirability and Attainability

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2017 Apr;43(4):524-537. doi: 10.1177/0146167216689052. Epub 2017 Feb 1.


To date, it is not well understood how individuals disengage from goals. A recent approach suggests that disengagement is often preceded by an action crisis, a motivational conflict in which the individual is torn between holding on to and letting go of a personal goal. We postulate that a dynamic interplay between the experience of action crisis and appraisals of goal desirability and attainability shapes the disengagement process from personal goals. In two longitudinal studies ( N = 364), an action crisis in the goal to complete a university degree predicted devaluations of its desirability and attainability, and reversely, low goal attainability (but not desirability) predicted an increase in action crisis. Moreover, studies provided first evidence that devaluing goal desirability might be functional for well-being in an action crisis. Studies strengthen the view that disengagement is shaped by reciprocal processes between the experience of action crisis and changes in goal appraisal.

Keywords: goal attainability; goal desirability; goal disengagement; goals; reciprocal processes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Young Adult