The Effects of Process Goal Deactivation on Subsequent Goal-Related Actions

Albert T. Botchway, Southern Illinois University Carbondale


The attainment of a goal results in deactivation of that goal. Deactivation of a goal refers to the inactive state of a goal as a result of it being achieved. Previous studies have found that when people perceive progress towards a set goal they temporarily relent on their efforts to achieve that goal. This implies that subjective evaluations of progress can lead to a decrease in effort to pursue a stated goal. Thus far the effect of goal deactivation has been demonstrated in relation to focal goals but has not been studied with process goals. Focal goals refer to the actual task at hand, whereas process goals refer to the preferred method by which a goal is pursued. This thesis examined the psychological mechanisms underlying the deactivation of process goals, using process goals promotion and prevention orientation as examples. There was no statistically significant effect for either promotion or prevention orientation deactivation across three dependent variables. However, all the mean differences were in the predicted direction. There was a statistically significant main effect of deactivation after promotion and prevention conditions were collapsed. Process goal deactivation as a result of perceived goal attainment is a self-regulatory mechanism that needs further research.



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