Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 7–38 | Cite as

Developing a Conceptual Framework of Employee Well-Being (EWB) by Applying Goal Concepts and Findings from Personality-Social Psychology

  • M. Joseph SirgyEmail author


This paper reports an attempt to develop a foundation of a theory of employee well-being (EWB) by borrowing concepts and findings from research in personality-social psychology. The proposed conceptual framework has four central principles: The principle of goal selection based on valence, the principle of goal selection based on expectancy, the goal implementation principle, and the goal attainment principle. These principles have corollaries expanding the logic of the proposed theoretical relationships. Specifically, the principle of goal selection based on valence has nine corollaries: Approach versus avoidance goals, goal meaningfulness, high- versus low-level goals, goals related to cultural norms, goals related to deprived needs, goals related to basic versus growth needs, intrinsic versus extrinsic goals, goals producing flow, and autonomy in goal setting. The principle of goal selection based on expectancy has five corollaries: Goal-motive congruence, goal-cultural value congruence, goal-resources congruence, goal conflict, and adapting goals to changes in circumstances. The principle of goal implementation has two corollaries: Goal concreteness and goal commitment. Finally, the goal attainment principle has three corollaries: Recognition of goal attainment, intensity versus frequency of positive feedback, and progress reports.


employee well-being job satisfaction work satisfaction quality of work life quality of working life subjective well-being life satisfaction happiness perceived quality of life goal theory 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abramson PR, Inglehart R (1995) Value change in global perspective. University of Michigan, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams D (1983) The psychological development of professional black women's lives and the consequences of career for their personal happiness. PhD dissertation, Wright Institute, Berkley, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  3. Affleck G, Tennen H, Urrows S, Higgins P, Abeles M, Hall C, Karoly P, Newton C (1998) Fibromyalgia and women's pursuit of personal goals: a daily process analysis. Health Psychol 17:40–47Google Scholar
  4. Ahuvia AC, Friedman DC (1998) Income, consumption, and subjective well-being: toward a composite macromarketing model. J Macromark 18(2):153–168Google Scholar
  5. Alliger GM, Williams KJ (1993) Using signal-contingent experience sampling methodology to study work in the field: a discussion and illustration examining task perception and mood. Pers Psychol 46:525–549Google Scholar
  6. Andrews FW, Withey SB (1976) Social indicators of well-being: America's perception of life quality. Plenum, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Argyle M (1999) Causes and correlates of happiness. In: Kahneman D, Diener E, Schwartz N (eds) Well-being: the foundations of hedonic psychology. Russell Sage, New York, pp 353–373Google Scholar
  8. Atkinson J (1958) Towards experimental analysis of human motivation in terms of motives, expectancies, and incentives. In: Atkinson J (ed) Motives in fantasy and society. Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, pp 288–305Google Scholar
  9. Austin JJ, Vancouver JB (1996) Goal constructs in psychology: structure, process, and content. Psychol Bull 120(3):338–375Google Scholar
  10. Baker LA, Cesa IL, Gatz M, Grodsky A (1992) Genetic and environmental influences on positive and negative affect: support for a two-factor theory. Psychol Aging 7:158–163Google Scholar
  11. Baltes PB, Baltes MM (1990) Psychological perspectives on successful aging: the model of selective optimization with compensation. In: Baltes PB, Baltes MM (eds) Successful aging: perspectives from the behavioral sciences. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 1–34Google Scholar
  12. Bandura A (1991) Self-regulation of motivation through anticipatory and self-reactive mechanisms. In: Dienstbier R (ed) Nebraska symposium on motivation, 1990: perspectives on motivation. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pp 69–164Google Scholar
  13. Black AE, Deci EL (2000) The effects of instructors' autonomy support and students' autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: a self-determination theory perspective. Sci Educ 84:740–756Google Scholar
  14. Brunstein JC, Schultheiss OC, Grassman R (1998) Personal goals and emotional well being: the moderating role of motive disposition. J Pers Soc Psychol 75:494–508Google Scholar
  15. Campbell A, Converse PE, Rogers WJ (1976) The quality of American life: perceptions, evaluations, and satisfaction. Russell Sage, New York, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Cantor N (1994) Life task problem solving: situational affordances and personal needs. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 20:235–243Google Scholar
  17. Cantor N, Fleeson W (1994) Social intelligence and intelligent goal pursuit: a cognitive slice of motivation. In: Spaulding W (ed) Nebraska symposium on motivation: integrative views of motivation, cognition, and emotion, vol. 41. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pp 125–179Google Scholar
  18. Cantor N, Sanderson CA (1999) Life task participation and well being: the importance of taking part in daily life. In: Kahneman D, Diener E, Schwartz N (eds) Well-being: the foundations of hedonic psychology. Russell Sage, New York, pp 230–243Google Scholar
  19. Carver CS, Baird E (1998) The American dream revisited: is it what you want or why you want it that matters? Psychol Sci 9:289–292Google Scholar
  20. Carver CS, Scheier MG (1981) Attention and self-regulation: a control-theory approach to human behavior. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Carver CS, Scheier MG (1982) Control theory: a useful conceptual framework for personality-social, clinical, and health psychology. Psychol Bull 92:111–135Google Scholar
  22. Carver CS, Scheier MG (1990) Origins and functions of positive and negative affect: a control-process view. Psychol Rev 97:19–35Google Scholar
  23. Carver CS, Scheier MG (1998) On the self-regulation of behavior. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Carver CS, Scheier MG, Weintraub JK (1989) Assessing coping strategies: a theoretically based approach. J Pers Social Psychol 38:668–678Google Scholar
  25. Costa PT, McRae RR (1980) Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: happy and unhappy people. J Pers Soc Psychol 38:668–678Google Scholar
  26. Crist-Houran M (1996) Efficacy of volunteerism. Psychol Rep 79:736Google Scholar
  27. Csikszentmihalyi M (1975) Beyond boredom and anxiety. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  28. Csikszentmihalyi M (1982) Towards a psychology of optimal experience. In: Wheeler L (ed) Review of personality and social psychology, vol. 2. Sage, Beverly Hills, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  29. Csikszentmihalyi M (1990) Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. Harper Perennial, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Csikszentmihalyi M, Csikszentmihalyi IS (1988) Optimal experience: psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Csikszentmihalyi M, Kubey R (1981) Television and the rest of life. Public Opin Q 45:317–328Google Scholar
  32. Cummins RA (2000) Personal income and subjective well-being: a review. Journal of Happiness Studies 1(2):133–158Google Scholar
  33. deCharms R (1976) Enhancing motivation: change in the classroom. Irvington, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Deci EL, Ryan RM (1987) The support of autonomy and control of behavior. J Pers Soc Psychol 53:1024–1037Google Scholar
  35. Deci EL, Schwartz AJ, Sheinman L, Ryan RM (1981) An instrument to assess adults' orientations toward control versus autonomy with children: reflections on intrinsic motivation and perceived competence. J Educ Psychol 73:642–650Google Scholar
  36. Deci EL, Koestner R, Ryan RM (1999) A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychol Bull 25:627–668Google Scholar
  37. DeLongis A, Coyne JC, Dakof G, Folkman S, Lazarus RS (1982) Relationship of daily hassles, uplifts, and major life events to health status. Health Psychol 1:119–136Google Scholar
  38. DeLongis A, Folkman S, Lazarus RS (1988) The impact of daily stress on health and mood: psychological and social resources as mediators. J Pers Soc Psychol 54:486–495Google Scholar
  39. Diener E (1984) Subjective well-being. Psychol Bull 75(3):542–575Google Scholar
  40. Diener E, Fujita F (1995) Resources, personal strivings, and SWB: a nomothetic and idiographic approach. J Pers Soc Psychol 68:926–935Google Scholar
  41. Diener E, Larsen RJ (1984) Temporal stability and cross-situational consistency of affective, behavioral, and cognitive responses. J Pers Soc Psychol 47:580–592Google Scholar
  42. Diener E, Lucas RE (1999) Personality and subjective well being. In: Kahneman D, Diener E, Schwartz N (eds) Well-being: the foundations of hedonic psychology. Russell Sage, New York, pp 213–229Google Scholar
  43. Diener E, Horwitz F, Emmons RA (1985) Happiness of the very wealthy. Soc Indic Res 16:263–274Google Scholar
  44. Diener E, Larsen R, Levine S, Emmons R (1985) Intensity and frequency: dimensions underlying positive and negative affect. J Pers Soc Psychol 48:1253–1265Google Scholar
  45. Diener E, Colvin CR, Pavot WG, Allman A (1991) The psychic costs of intense positive affect. J Pers Soc Psychol 61(3):492–503Google Scholar
  46. Diener E, Sandvik E, Pavot W (1991) Happiness is frequency, not intensity, of positive versus negative affect. In: Strack F, Argyle M, Schwarz N (eds) Subjective well-being. Pergamon, Oxford, UK, pp 119–139Google Scholar
  47. Diener E, Suh E, Lucas R, Smith H (1999) Subjective well-being: three decades of research. Psychol Bull 125:276–302Google Scholar
  48. Emmons RA (1986) Personal strivings: an approach to personality and subjective well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol 51:1058–1068Google Scholar
  49. Emmons RA (1996) Striving and feeling: personal goals and subjective well-being. In: Gollwitzer PM, Bargh JA (eds) The Psychology of action. Guilford, New York, pp 313–337Google Scholar
  50. Emmons RA (1999) The psychology of ultimate concerns: motivation and spirituality in personality. Guilford, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. Emmons RA, King LA (1988) Conflict among personal strivings: immediate and long-term implications for psychological and physical well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol 54:1040–1048Google Scholar
  52. Emmons RA, Shepherd NR, Kaiser HA (1994, August) Approach and avoidance strivings and psychological and physical well-being. Poster presented at the 102nd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  53. Ford ME (1992) Motivating humans: goals, emotions, and personal agency beliefs. Sage, Newbury Park, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  54. Gerson K (1993) No man's land: men's changing commitments to family and work. Basic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  55. Gollwitzer PM (1990) Action phases and mind-sets. In: Higgins ET, Sorrentino RM (eds) Handbook of motivation and cognition, vol. 2. Guilford, New York, pp 53–92Google Scholar
  56. Gollwitzer PM (1993) Goal achievement: the role of intentions. In: Stroebe W, Hewstone M (eds) European review of social psychology, vol. 4. Wiley, New York, pp 141–185Google Scholar
  57. Gollwitzer PM (1996) The volitional benefits of planning. In: Gollwitzer PM, Bargh JA (eds) The psychology of action: linking cognition and motivation to behavior. Guilford, New York, pp 287–312Google Scholar
  58. Gollwitzer PM (1999) Implementation intentions: strong effects of simple plans. Am Psychol 54(7):493–503Google Scholar
  59. Harris C, Daniels K, Briner R (2003) A diary study of goals and affective well-being at work. J Occup Organ Psychol 76:401–410Google Scholar
  60. Headey B, Wearing A (1988) The sense of relative superiority: central to well-being. Soc Indic Res 20:497–516Google Scholar
  61. Heckhausen J (1999) Developmental regulation in adulthood: age-graded normative and socio-cultural constraints as adaptive challenge. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  62. Henry C, Lovelace S (1995) Family resources and adolescent family satisfaction in remarried family households. J Fam Issues 16:765Google Scholar
  63. Herzberg F, Mausner B, Pederson R, Capwell D (1957) Job attitudes: review of research and opinion. Psychological Services, Pittsburgh, PennsylvanniaGoogle Scholar
  64. Higgins ET (1997) Beyond pleasure and pain. Am Psychol 52:1280–1300Google Scholar
  65. Higgins ET (1998) Promotion and prevention: regulatory focus as a motivational principle. In: Zanna MP (ed) Advances in experimental social psychology, vol. 30. Academic, New York, pp 1–46Google Scholar
  66. Higgins ET, Roney CJR, Crowe E, Hymes C (1994) Ideal versus ought predilections for approach and avoidance: distinct self-regulatory systems. J Pers Soc Psychol 66:276–286Google Scholar
  67. Higgins ET, Shah J, Friedman R (1997) Emotional response to goal attainment: strength of regulatory focus as moderator. J Pers Soc Psychol 72:515–525Google Scholar
  68. Hsee CK, Abelson RP (1991) Velocity relations: satisfaction as a function of the first derivative of outcome over time. J Pers Soc Psychol 60:341–347Google Scholar
  69. Inglehart R (1977) The silent revolution: changing values and political styles among western publics. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  70. Inglehart R (1990) Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  71. Inglis A, Greenglass ER (1989) Motivation for marriage among women and men. Psychol Rep 65:1035–1042Google Scholar
  72. Karoly P (1999) A goal systems – self-regulatory perspective on personality, psychopathology, and change. Review of General Psychology 3(4):264–291Google Scholar
  73. Karoly P, Ruehlman LS (1995) Goal cognition and its clinical implications: development and preliminary validation of four motivational assessment instruments. Assessment 2:113–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Karoly P, Ruehlman LS (1996) Motivational implications of pain: chronicity, psychological distress, and work goal construal in a national sample of adults. Health Psychol 15:383–390Google Scholar
  75. Kasser T (1997) Two versions of the American dream: which goals and values make for a high quality of life? Paper presented at the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 20–22, 1997Google Scholar
  76. Kasser T, Ryan RM (1993) The dark side of the American dream: differential correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration. J Pers Soc Psychol 65:410–422Google Scholar
  77. Kasser T, Ryan RM (1996) Further examining the American dream: differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 22:280–287Google Scholar
  78. Kasser T, Ryan RM (1998) Be careful what you wish for: optimal functioning and the relative attainment of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Working paper.Google Scholar
  79. Kasser T, Ryan RM, Zax M, Sameroff AJ (1995) The relations of maternal and social environments to late adolescents' materialistic and prosocial values. Dev Psychol 31:907–914Google Scholar
  80. Krieger LS, Reynolds E, Neill L (1997) World history: perspectives on the past. McDougal Little, Evenston, IllinoisGoogle Scholar
  81. Kruglanski AW (1996) Goals as knowledge structures. In: Gollwitzer PM, Bargh JA (eds) The psychology of action: linking cognition and motivation to behavior. Guilford, New York, pp 599–618Google Scholar
  82. Kubey R, Csikszentmihalyi M (1990) Television and the quality of life: how viewing shapes everyday experience. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  83. Kuhl J (1984) Volitional aspects of achievement motivation and learned helplessness: toward a comprehensive theory of action control. In: Maher BA, Maher WA (eds) Progress in experimental personality research, vol. 13. Academic, New York, pp 99–171Google Scholar
  84. Kuhl J, Beckmann J (1994) Volition and personality: action versus state orientation. Hogrefe & Huber, Göttingen, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  85. Latham GP, Yukl GA (1975) A review of research on the application of goal setting in organizations. Acad Manage J 18(4):824–845Google Scholar
  86. Lecci L, Karoly P, Ruehlman LS, Lanyon RI (1996) Goal-relevant dimensions of hypochondriacal tendencies and their relation to symptom manifestation and psychological distress. J Abnorm Psychology 105:42–52Google Scholar
  87. Lee GR, Seccombe K, Shehan CL (1991) Marital status and personal happiness: an analysis of trend data. J Marriage Fam 53:839–844Google Scholar
  88. Lepper H (1996) In pursuit of happiness and satisfaction in later life: a study of competing theories of subjective well-being. PhD dissertation, University of California, RiversideGoogle Scholar
  89. Linderman M, Verkasalo M (1996) Meaning in life. J Soc Psychol 136:657Google Scholar
  90. Locke EA (1968) Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. Organ Behav Hum Perform 3:157–189Google Scholar
  91. Locke EA, Latham GP (2002) Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: a 35-year odyssey. Am Psychol 57(9):705–717Google Scholar
  92. Locke EA, Shaw KN, Saari LM, Latham GP (1981) Goal setting and task performance: 1969–1980. Psychol Bull 90:125–152Google Scholar
  93. Malatesta CZ, Grigoryev P, Lamb C, Albin M, Culver C (1986) Emotion socialization and expressive development in preterm and full-term infants. Child Dev 57:316–330Google Scholar
  94. Massimini F, Csikszentmihalyi M, Carli M (1987) The monitoring of optimal experience: a tool for psychiatric rehabilitation. J Nerv Ment Dis 175(9):545–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Massimini F, Csikszentmihalyi M, Delle Fave A (1988) Flow and biocultural evolution. In: Csikszentmihalyi M, Csikszentmihalyi I (eds) Optimal experience: psychological studies of flow of consciousness. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  96. McGregor I, Little B (1998) Personal projects, happiness, and meaning: on doing well and being yourself. J Pers Soc Psychol 74:494Google Scholar
  97. Mento A, Locke EA, Klein H (1992) Relationship of goal level to valence and instrumentality. J Appl Psychol 77:395–405Google Scholar
  98. Murray HA (1938) Explorations in personality. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  99. Murray C, Peacock MJ (1996) A model-free approach to the study of subjective well-being. In: mental health of black America. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  100. Oishi S, Diener E, Suh E, Lucas RE (1999) The value as a moderator model in subjective well being. J Pers 67:157–183Google Scholar
  101. Omodei MM, Wearing AJ (1990) Need satisfaction and involvement in personal projects: toward an integrative model of subjective well being. J Pers Soc Psychol 59(4):762–769Google Scholar
  102. Roth S, Cohen LJ (1986) Approach, avoidance, and coping with stress. Am Psychol 41:813–819Google Scholar
  103. Ryan RM, Connell JP (1989) Perceived locus of causality and internalization: examining reasons for acting in two domains. J Pers Soc Psychol 57:749–761Google Scholar
  104. Ryan RM, Deci EL (2000) Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. Am Psychol 55:68–78Google Scholar
  105. Scitovsky T (1976) The joyless economy: the psychology of human satisfaction. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  106. Sheldon KM, Kasser T (1995) Coherence and congruence: two aspects of personality integration. J Pers Soc Psychol 68:531–543Google Scholar
  107. Sheldon KM, Kasser T, Smith K, Shore T (2002) Personal goals and psychological growth: testing an intervention to enhance goal attainment and personality integration. J Pers 70:5–31Google Scholar
  108. Shostak AB (1987) Singlehood. In: Sussman MB, Steinmetz SK (eds) Handbook of marriage and the family. Plenum, New York, pp 355–367Google Scholar
  109. Simpson R (1990) Conflict styles and social network relations as predictors of marital happiness. PhD dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MichiganGoogle Scholar
  110. Sirgy MJ (1998) Materialism and quality of life. Soc Indic Res 43:227–260Google Scholar
  111. Sirgy MJ (2001) Handbook of quality-of-life research. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  112. Sirgy MJ (2002) The psychology of quality of life. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  113. Solomon RL (1980) The opponent-process theory of acquired motivation: the costs of pleasure and the benefits of pain. Am Psychol 35:691–712Google Scholar
  114. Steers RM, Porter LW (1974) The role of task-goal attributes in employee performance. Psychol Bull 81:434–452Google Scholar
  115. Tannen D (1994) Talking from 9 to 5: how women's and men's conversational styles affect who gets heard, who gets credit, and what gets done at work. William Morrow, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  116. Thorne B (1992) Feminism and the family: two decades of thought. In: Thorne B, Yalom M (eds) Rethinking the family: some feminist questions. Northeastern University Press, Boston, pp 3–30Google Scholar
  117. Thurman C (1981) Personality correlates of the type A behavior pattern. PhD dissertation, University of Georgia, Athens, GeorgiaGoogle Scholar
  118. Tubbs ME (1986) Goal setting: a meta-analytic examination of the empirical evidence. J Appl Psychol 71(3):474–483Google Scholar
  119. Tubbs ME, Dahl JG (1991) An empirical comparison of self-report and discrepancy measures of goal commitment. J Appl Psychol 76:708–716Google Scholar
  120. Turner C (1994) Follow through in conflict resolution as a factor in marital satisfaction and personal happiness. Master's thesis, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NevadaGoogle Scholar
  121. Vallacher RR, Wegner DM (1987) What do people think they're doing? Action identification and human behavior. Psychol Rev 94:3–15Google Scholar
  122. Vallacher RR, Wegner DM (1989) Levels of personal agency: individual variation in action identification. J Pers Soc Psychol 57:660–671Google Scholar
  123. Watson D, Pennebaker JW (1989) Health complaints, stress, and distress: exploring the central role of negative affectivity. Psychol Rev 96:234–254Google Scholar
  124. Wicklund RA, Gollwitzer PM (1982) Symbolic self-completion. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  125. Wiese BS, Fruend AM (2005) Goal progress makes one happy, or does it? Longitudinal findings from the work domain. J Occup Organ Psychol 78:287–304Google Scholar
  126. Williams GC, Grow VM, Freedman ZR, Ryan RM, Deci EL (1996) Motivational predictors of weight loss and weight-loss maintenance. J Pers Soc Psychol 70:115–126Google Scholar
  127. Wilson S, Henry C, Peterson G (1997) Life satisfaction among low-income rural youth in Appalachia. J Adolesc 20:443Google Scholar
  128. Wood W, Rhodes N, Whelan M (1989) Sex differences in positive well-being: a consideration of emotional style and marital status. Psychol Bull 106:249–264Google Scholar
  129. Wright RA, Brehm JW (1989) Energization and goal attractiveness. In: Pervin LA (ed) Goal concepts in personality and social psychology. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, New Jersey, pp 169–210Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. / The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marketing, Pamplin College of BusinessVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations