Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


Leontiev D.A., Suchkov D.D. Setting and achieving goals as a factor of psychological well-being

Full text in Russian: Леонтьев Д.А., Сучков Д.Д. Постановка и достижение целей как фактор психологического благополучия
Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

About authors
Suggested citation

The process of setting and achieving goals, as well as their content, in structure factors of psychological well-being is considered. In the paper a number of the Western empirical researches aimed at understanding this relationship, especially in the framework of self-determination theory (SDT) are reviewed. The concepts of internal and external goals are introduced. The role of universal basic needs in the process of goal-setting is highlighted. Goal contents theory is presented. The concept of goal self-concordance (K.Sheldon) is introduced as a predictive factor of both goal achieving and subjective well-being.

Keywords: goal, subjective well-being, self-determination theory, intrinsic goal, extrinsic goal, basic needs, concordant goal


The article was prepared within the framework of a subsidy granted to the Higher School of Economics by the Government of the Russian Federation for the implementation of the Global Competitiveness Program.


Bailis D.S., Fleming J.A.M, Segall A. Self-determination and functional persuasion to encourage physical activity. Psychology and Health, 2005, 20(6), 691–708.

Bailis D.S., Segall A. Self-determination and social comparison in a health-promotion setting. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 2004, 26(1), 25–33.

Bandura A. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: Freeman and Co., 1997.

Brunstein J.C. Personal goals and subjective well-being: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, 65(5), 1061–1070.

Brunstein J.C., Schultheiss O.C., Grassmann R. Personal goals and emotional well-being: The moderating role of motive dispositions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1998, 75(2), 494–508.

Cantor N., Sanderson C.A. Life task participation and well-being: The importance of taking part in daily life. In: D. Kahnemann, E. Diener, N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundation of hedonic psychology. New York, NY: Russel Sage Foundation, 2003. pp. 230–243.

Carver C. Self-regulation of Action and Affect. Handbook of Self-Regulation: Research, Theory, and Applications. New York, NY: Guilford, 2004.

Carver C., Scheier M. On the Self-Regulation of Behavior. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Deci E.L. Intrinsic motivation. New York, NY: Plenum, 1975.

Deci E.L., Ryan R.M. The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 2000, 11(4), 227–268.

Deci E.L., Ryan R.M. The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 1985, 19(2), 109–134.

Dickerhoof R.M. Expressing optimism and gratitude: A longitudinal investigation of cognitive strategies to increase well-being. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 2007, 68(6-B), pp. 4174.

Diener E. Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 1984, 95(3), 542–575.

Diener E., Suh E.M., Lucas R.E., Smith H.L. Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 1999, 125(2), 276–302.

Emmons R.A. Personal goals, life meaning, and virtue: wellsprings of a positive life. In: C. Keyes, J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: positive psychology and the life well-lived. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2003. pp. 105–128.

Emmons R. Psikhologiya vysshikh ustremlenii: motivatsiya i dukhovnost' lichnosti. Moscow: Smysl, 2004. (in Russian)

Gollwitzer P.M. Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 1999, 54(7), 493–503.

Gordeeva T.O. Psikhologiya motivatsii dostizheniya. Moscow: Smysl, 2006. (in Russian)

Gordeeva T.O. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 2010, No. 4(12), (in Russian)

Gordeeva T.O. Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Ser. 14, Psikhologiya, 2014, No. 3, 63–78. (in Russian)

Hofmann W., Wilson T.D. Consciousness, introspection, and the adaptive unconsciousness. In: B. Gawronski, B.K. Payne (Eds.), Handbook of implicit social cognition: Measurement, theory, and applications. New York, NY: Guilford Press, 2010. pp. 197–215.

Hofree G., Winkielman P. On (not) knowing and feeling what we want and like. In: S. Vazire, T.D. Wilson (Eds.), Handbook of self-knowledge. New York, NY: Guilford Press, 2012. pp. 210–224.

Houser-Marko L., Sheldon K.M. Eyes on the prize or nose to the grindstone? The effects of level of evaluation on mood and motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2008, 34(11), 1556–1569.

Kahneman D. Thinking, fast and slow. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2011.

Kahneman D., Fredrick S. A model of heuristic judgment. In: K.J. Holyoak, R.G. Morrison (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005. pp. 267–293.

Kasser T., Ryan R.M. A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1993, 65(2), 410–422.

Kasser T., Ryan R.M. Further examining the American dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1996, 22(3), 80–87.

Kasser T., Ryan R.M. Be careful what you wish for: Optimal functioning and the relative attainment of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. In: P. Schmuck, K.M. Sheldon (Eds.), Life goals and wellbeing: Towards a positive psychology of human striving. Goettingen, Germany: Hogrefe and Huber, 2001. pp. 116–131.

Klug H., Maier G. Linking goal progress and subjective well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2015, 16(1), 37–65.

Koestner R., Lekes N., Powers T., Chicoine E. Attaining personal goals: Self-concordance plus implementation intentions equals success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2002, 83(1), 231–244. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.83.1.231.

Kuhl J. A functional-design approach to motivation and self-regulation: The dynamics of personality systems and interactions. In: M. Boekaerts, P. Pintrich (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2000. pp. 111–169.

Kuhl J., Kazen M. Self discrimination and memory: State orientation and false self ascription of assigned activities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1994, 66(6), 1103–1115.

Leontiev A.N. Lektsii po obshchei psikhologii. Moscow: Smysl, 2000. (in Russian)

Leontiev D.A. Psikhologiya smysla. Moscow: Smysl, 1999. (in Russian)

Leontiev D.A. In: Uchenye zapiski kafedry obshchei psikhologii MGU im. M.V.Lomonosova. Moscow: Smysl, 2006. Vol. 2, 85–105. (in Russian)

McAdams D.P. Personality, Modernity, and the storied self: A contemporary framework for studying persons. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7, 295–321.

Rogers C. On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961.

Rogers C.R. Toward a modern approach to values: The valuing process in the mature person. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1964, Vol. 68, 160–167.

Ruehlman L.S., Wolchik, S.A. Personal goals and interpersonal support and hindrance as factors in psychological distress and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1988, 55(2), 293–301.

Ryan R.M., Chirkov V.I., Little T.D., Sheldon K.M., Timoshina E., Deci E.L. The American Dream in Russia: Extrinsic aspirations and well-being in two cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1999, 25(12), 1509–1524.

Ryan R.M., Connell J.P. Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1989, 57(5), 749–761.

Ryan R.M., Deci E.L. An overview of self-determination theory: An organismic-dialectical perspective. In: E.L. Deci, R.M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Determination Research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2002. pp. 3–33.

Ryan R.M., Sheldon K.M., Kasser T., Deci E.L. All goals are not created equal: An organismic perspective on the nature of goals and their regulation. In: P.M. Gollwitzer, J.A. Bargh (Eds.), The psychology of action: Linking cognition and motivation to behavior. New York, NY: Guilford. 1996. pp. 7–26.

Sheldon K., Kasser T., Smith K., Share T. Personal Goals and Psychological Growth: Testing an Intervention to enhance Goal Attainment and Personality Integration. Journal of Personality, 2002, 70(1), 5–31.

Sheldon K., Ryan R., Deci R., Kasser T. The Independent Effect of Goal Contents and Motives on Well-Being: It’s Both What You Pursue and Why You Pursue It. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2004, 30(4), 475–486.

Sheldon K.M. Creativity and self determination in personality. Creativity Research Journal, 1995, 8(1), 61–72.

Sheldon K.M. Optimal human being: An integrated multi-level perspective. New Jersey: Erlbaum, 2004.

Sheldon K.M., Cooper M.L. Goal striving within agentic and communal roles: Functionally independent pathways to enhanced well-being. Journal of Personality, 2008, 76(3), 415–447.

Sheldon K.M., Elliot A.J. Not all personal goals are personal: Comparing autonomous and controlled reasons as predictors of effort and attainment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1998, 24(5), 546–557.

Sheldon K.M., Elliot A.J. Goal striving, need-satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: The Self-Concordance Model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, 76(3), 482–497.

Sheldon K.M., Houser-Marko L. Self-concordance, goal-attainment, and the pursuit of happiness: Can there be an upward spiral? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2001, 80(1), 152–165.

Sheldon K.M., Kasser T. Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1995, 68(3), 531–543.

Sheldon K.M., Kasser T. Pursuing personal goals: Skills enable progress, but not all progress is beneficial. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1998, 24(12), 1319–1331.

Sheldon K.M., King L.A., Houser-Marko L., Osbaldiston R., Gunz A. Comparing IAT and TAT measures of power versus intimacy motivation. European Journal of Personality, 2007, 21(3), 236–280.

Sheldon K.M., Lyubomirsky S. Achieving sustainable happiness: Change your actions, not your circumstances. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2006, 7(1), 55–86.

Sheldon K.M., Schuler J. Needing, wanting, and having: Integrating motive disposition theory and self-determination theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2011, 101(5), 1106–1123.

Stanovich K.E., West R.F. Individual difference in reasoning: implications for the rationality debate. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 2000, 23(5), 645–726.

Vansteenkiste M., Niemiec C., Soenens B. The development of the five mini-theories of self-determination theory: An historical overview, emerging trends, and future directions. In: T. Urdan, S. Karabenick (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement. The decade ahead: Theoretical Perspectives on Motivation and Achievement. UK: Emerald Publishing, 2010. Vol. 16, pp. 105–166.

Wiese B.S. Successful pursuit of personal goals and subjective well-being. In: B.R. Little, K. Salmela-Aro, S.D. Phillips (Eds.), Personal project pursuit: Goals, action, and human flourishing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2007. pp. 301–328.

Wilensky R. Planning and understanding: A computational approach to human reasoning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1983.

Received 25 July 2015. Date of publication: 29 December 2015.

About authors

Leontiev Dmitry A. Ph.D., Professor, Head of International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, Higher School of Economics (National Research University), Slavyanskaya pl., 4/2, 109074 Moscow, Russia.
E-mail: Этот адрес электронной почты защищен от спам-ботов. У вас должен быть включен JavaScript для просмотра.

Suchkov Dmitry D. Junior Research Associate,  International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, Higher School of Economics (National Research University), Slavyanskaya pl., 4/2, 109074 Moscow, Russia.
E-mail: Этот адрес электронной почты защищен от спам-ботов. У вас должен быть включен JavaScript для просмотра.
SPIN RINTS: 4375-6134
ORCID: 0000-0002-5741-2407

Suggested citation

Leontiev D.A., Suchkov D.D. Setting and achieving goals as a factor of psychological well-being. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 44, p. 1. (in Russian, abstr. in English).

Permanent URL:

Back to top >>

Related Articles