A goal-affect analysis of everyday situational choices


Emmons, R. A., & Diener, E. (1986). A goal-affect analysis of everyday situational choices. Journal of Research in Personality, 20(3), 309-326.


The purpose of the present study was to explore several of the processes accounting for situational choices. Subjects kept daily records of their moods and the situations they encountered over a 30-day period. They rated the importance of 17 goals in each situation and estimated how often they actually attained each goal. The frequencies of satisfying and frustrating outcomes were also rated. It was found that goal importance and goal attainment were the best predictors of time spent in situations, followed by positive affect felt in the situation, and next by the satisfied outcome ratings. These relationships were generally stronger in chosen as opposed to imposed situations. Some situations were chosen on the basis of affect (recreation-leisure), while other situations (work-study) were chosen despite their affective consequences. It was concluded that situational choices are predicted by different variables for different situations and for different persons. The relevance of various current motivational theories for the present findings is discussed. Other possible influences on situational choices are suggested.

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