Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 37–65 | Cite as

Linking Goal Progress and Subjective Well-Being: A Meta-analysis

  • Hannah J. P. Klug
  • Günter W. Maier
Research Paper


This article provides a quantitative review of the link between successful goal pursuit and subjective well-being (SWB). The meta-analysis integrates the findings of 108 independent samples derived from 85 studies. Results revealed a significant association between successful goal striving and SWB (ρ = .43). Moderator analyses showed that the association was larger when (a) successful goal pursuit was defined as goal progress, instead of goal attainment, when (b) SWB was measured as SWB (positive indicators), instead of ill-being (negative indicators), when (c) the SWB measure matched the goal content, instead of lacked conceptual correspondence, and when (d) the data collection took place in an individualistic culture, instead of a collectivistic culture. Discussion centers on the interpretation of moderators, theoretical implications, and directions for future research.


Meta-analysis Personal goals Goal progress Well-being 



We would like to thank all researchers providing information about unpublished studies or study details as well as Stefan Fries, Janina Klug, Barbara Steinmann, and Jenny S. Wesche specifically for providing commentary and encouragement on a draft of this article.

Supplementary material

10902_2013_9493_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 47 kb)
10902_2013_9493_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (207 kb)
Flowchart illustrating the derivation of the analysis sample. b/c = because. Supplementary material 2 (JPG 207 kb)
10902_2013_9493_MOESM3_ESM.png (64 kb)
Trim-and-fill funnel plot. The center line indicates the true mean corrected effect size; the lines around the center represent the 95 % confidence envelope around the pooled estimate; the points denote the original observed effect sizes whereas the circles characterize “filled” imputed studies. Supplementary material 3 (PNG 64 kb)
10902_2013_9493_MOESM4_ESM.png (159 kb)
Forest plots illustrating the results of meta-analytic subgroup analyses. The x-axis displays rho, the corrected mean correlation. For every analysis, ρ (the average corrected correlation) and k (number of studies in a given subgroup analysis) is indicated. The size of the black boxes indicates N (total sample size in a given subgroup analysis) and the length of the whiskers indicates the width of the confidence intervals. Supplementary material 4 (PNG 159 kb)


References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the meta-analysis that are discussed in the text. For a complete list of studies included in meta-analytic calculations, see the electronic supplementary material.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Work and Organizational PsychologyBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany

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