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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We also conducted our meta-analyses using a fixed-effects model (Hedges and Olkin 1985). Effect sizes and confidence intervals computed for the overall goal progress effect did not differ considerably from those produced with a random-effects model. Data for the fixed-effects analyses are available on request from the first author.

  2. 2.

    Regarding the relationship of personality and SWB Steel et al. (2008) presented in their meta-analytic review average correlations of greater magnitude relative to DeNeve and Cooper (1998). Unfortunately, they did not report the mean effect size for personality but calculated weighted correlations for each facet of SWB with each personality dimension.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all researchers providing information about unpublished studies or study details as well as Stefan Fries, Janina Klug, Barbara Steinmann, and Jenny S. Wesche specifically for providing commentary and encouragement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

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Correspondence to Hannah J. P. Klug.

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Supplementary material 1 (docx 47 kb)

Flowchart illustrating the derivation of the analysis sample. b/c = because. Supplementary material 2 (JPG 207 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)

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)

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Klug, H.J.P., Maier, G.W. Linking Goal Progress and Subjective Well-Being: A Meta-analysis. J Happiness Stud 16, 37–65 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-013-9493-0

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Keywords

  • Meta-analysis
  • Personal goals
  • Goal progress
  • Well-being