How Do People Judge Meaning in Goal-Directed Behaviors: The Interplay Between Self-Concordance and Performance
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Perceived performance and self-concordance are two sources of information people may utilize to judge meaning in goal-directed behaviors. We contend that either variable can adequately support the presence of meaning, even in the absence of the other. This perspective suggests that non-self-concordant goal pursuits can feel meaningful as long as one feels successful at the goals, and that failed goal pursuits can feel meaningful as long as they are self-concordant. Five studies investigated this potential interaction between performance and self-concordance. As hypothesized, we found a negative interactive pattern such that meaning was maintained when either performance or self-concordance was high. This interactive effect held true for the experience of meaning in personal goals (Studies 1 and 2), courses (Study 3), and work (Studies 4 and 5). This interactive pattern did not emerge when the outcome variable was either positive affect or job satisfaction, suggesting this compensation process was somewhat unique to meaning.
author list (cited authors)
Zhang, H., Chen, K., & Schlegel, R.