People who are not sure about which personal goals to pursue may be at increased risk of experiencing psychological distress, suggests a new research. The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, investigated two forms of motivational conflict.
These were inter-goal conflict — when pursuing one goal makes it difficult to pursue another — and ambivalence — conflicting feelings about particular goals. The results showed that each of these forms of goal conflict was independently associated with anxious and depressive symptoms.
“We know that striving for goals that are important to us gives life meaning and purpose and promotes wellbeing,” said study co-author Joanne Dickson, Professor at Edith Cowan University in Australia. “However, when these goals generate conflict they can contribute to psychological distress,” Dickson added.
The findings are based on a survey of more than 200 young adults who were aged 18-35, with an average age of 20. “People with poorer mental health are more likely to report that their personal goals hinder one another,” said Nick Moberly of the University of Exeter in Britain. “Such conflict between goals may be more manageable if it is conscious,” Moberly added.