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The Independent Effects Of Goal Contents And Motives On Well-Being: It’s Both What You Pursue And Why You Pursue It

K. Sheldon, R. Ryan, E. Deci, T. Kasser
Published 2004 · Psychology, Medicine

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The assertion that both the content of goals and the motives behind goals affect psychological well-being has been controversial. Three studies examined this issue directly, showing that both what goals people pursue (i.e., whether they strive for extrinsic vs. intrinsic goal contents) and why people pursue them (i.e., whether they strive for autonomous vs. controlled motives) make significant independent contributions to psychological well-being. The pattern emerged in between-person and within-person studies of cross-sectional well-being and also emerged in a year-long study of prospective change in well-being. Implications for prescriptive theories of happiness are discussed.
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