Conflict among personal strivings: immediate and long-term implications for psychological and physical well-being

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988 Jun;54(6):1040-8. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.54.6.1040.


We examined the influence of goal conflict and ambivalence on psychological and physical well-being through the personal striving framework. Eighty-eight undergraduates in two studies listed 15 of their personal strivings and rated them on the amount of conflict experienced between them and ambivalence experienced about each. Diary and experience sampling methods were used to assess positive and negative affect and physical symptomatology. Conflict and ambivalence were associated with high levels of negative affect, depression, neuroticism, and psychosomatic complaints. Conflict was also associated with health center visits and illnesses over the past year. A 1-year follow-up demonstrated that conflict and ambivalence ratings were stable and that these ratings predicted psychosomatic complaints over time. In a third study, undergraduates' thoughts and activities were randomly sampled over a 3-week period. Subjects were less likely to act on conflictful and ambivalent strivings but to spend more time thinking about these strivings.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*