July 2, 2012

Beneficial effects of a progress focus

On this blog I hope to share and develop insights about what progress is, how it can be achieved, and what its effects are. While the topic of progress ultimately may be as complex as any topic in psychology it is actually possible to say a few general simple things about the beneficial effects of focusing on progress.

Perceived progress, the perception of unimpeded movement forward or overcoming obstacles, appears to be a powerful thing. Here are some proven advantages associated with the monitoring progress and the perception of progress:
  1. Self-evaluation of progress is a key motivational process. The perception of progress generally increases self-efficacy and motivation (Schunk & Usher, 2012). 
  2. Both the belief in and actual progress toward goals increases subjective well-being (MacLeod, Coates & Hetherton, 2008). 
  3. An individual’s sense of progress toward life goals is related to better physical health and less depression (Street, O’Connor & Robinson, 2007). 
  4. Reflecting on progress helps to learn if something you have tried is effective and, if not, to make modifications to your approach (Cleary, 2011). 
  5. Focusing on progress is highly motivating both in work settings (Amabile & Kramer, 2011) and in one’s personal life (Elliot, Sheldon & Church, 1997). Progress seems to be crucial for finding meaning and gratification in work and in life in general, especially when the progress is related to the fulfillment of the individual’s need for autonomy, competence and relatedness (Sheldon & Kasser, 1998). In later posts I will explore some more nuanced findings about progress.

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