Wie übergeordnete Ziele zu erfolgreicherer Zielverfolgung führen können

Das Erreichen von Zielen wird typischerweise als Erfolg und etwas Positives gesehen. Dieses Forschungsprojekt beschäftigt sich mit der negativen Seite der Zielerreichung. Denn das Erreichen eines Zieles führt oft zu einem Ausruhen und einer geringeren Motivation, ein Verhalten weiter zu zeigen. Dies ist unproblematisch bei kurzfristig erreichbaren Zielen. Viele Ziele verlangen jedoch einen kontinuierlichen Einsatz über einen längeren Zeitraum. Dieses Forschungsprojekt beschäftigt sich mit den Vorteilen langfristiger und übergeordneter Ziele.

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Concrete, challenging goals ­­are powerful motivators and boost performance more than abstract goals (Locke & Latham, 2002, 2013). To illustrate, the concrete goal of “exercising on Wednesday evening for 60 minutes” should boost performance more than the abstract goal of “be healthy.” So far, research has mostly focused on concrete goals. While achieving concrete goals is seen as something positive, many of today’s social, environmental, and economic challenges require more than achieving a concrete goal. For example, exercising once does not lead to a healthy life; recycling glass bottles does not make you an environmentally friendly person. In these cases, a concrete goal—i.e., a subordinate goal—is only one of many steps that contribute to what people ultimately aspire to: an abstract, superordinate goal. Accordingly, successful goal pursuit requires not only the achievement of single steps, but also effort over the long term and across various situations, overcoming setbacks, resisting the pull of competing goals and temptations (Rothman, Baldwin, Hertel, & Fuglestad, 2004). In light of these challenges, focusing solely on a subordinate goal may not be the best solution (Ordóñez, Schweitzer, Galinsky, & Bazerman, 2009).

An idea that might help overcome these difficulties is to focus additionally on superordinate goals. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate possible benefits of superordinate goals (which have received less attention in research than subordinate goals), and to explore the idea that focusing on a combination of goals at different levels of abstraction fosters broad, long-term goal pursuit more than focusing on either a superordinate or subordinate goal alone.

This research project consists of several studies that all adopt a goal-theoretical perspective to explore how superordinate goals and a combination of goals at different levels of abstraction influence goal pursuit in different contexts.



Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist57(9), 705–717. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.57.9.705

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (Eds.). (2013). New developments in goal setting and task performance. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ordóñez, L. D., Schweitzer, M. E., Galinsky, A. D., & Bazerman, M. H. (2009). Goals gone wild: The systematic side effects of overprescribing goal setting. The Academy of Management Perspectives23(1), 6–16. doi: 10.5465/AMP.2009.37007999

Rothman, A. J., Baldwin, A. S., Hertel, A. W., & Fuglestad, P. T. (2004). Self-regulation and behavior change: Disentangling behavioral initiation and behavioral maintenance. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (pp. 130–148). New York, NY: Guilford Press.


Scientific Publications / Wissenschaftliche Publikationen

Brügger, A., & Höchli, B. (2019). The Role of Attitude Strength in Behavioral Spillover: Attitude Matters—But Not Necessarily as a Moderator. Frontiers in Psychology10, 1018. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01018

Höchli, B., Brügger, A., Abegglen, R., & Messner, C. (2019). Using a Goal Theoretical Perspective to Reduce Negative and Promote Positive Spillover After a Bike-to-Work Campaign. Frontiers in Psychology10, 433. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00433

Höchli, B., Brügger, A., & Messner, C. (2018). How Focusing on Superordinate Goals Motivates Broad, Long-Term Goal Pursuit: A Theoretical Perspective. Frontiers in Psychology9, 1664–1078. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01879

Höchli, B., Brügger, A., & Messner, C. (2019). Making New Year’s Resolutions that Stick: Exploring how Superordinate and Subordinate Goals Motivate Goal Pursuit. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. doi: 10.1111/aphw.12172