March 22, 2016

Self-concordance theory

In the post Beneficial effects of a progress focus I listed evidence of how a perception of progress toward goals is associated with such things as increased well-being, motivation, and better physical and mental health. In that post, I also mentioned especially that progress leads to increased well-being in particular when it is related to the fulfillment of the individual’s need for autonomy, competence and relatedness (Sheldon & Kasser, 1998).

Related to that insight is Sheldon and Elliot’s (1999) self-concordance theory. The self-concordance of goals reflects the degree to which they are consistent with the person’s developing interests and values. Vasalampi et al. (2009) who found empirical evidence for self-concordance theory described self-concordance theory as follows: “[…] having personal goals that are selected for autonomous reasons increases goal-directed effort and thereby increases goal progress. Goal progress, in turn, leads to an increase in subjective well-being and adjustment.” They visualize this as follows:


This suggests that, whenever we can, we should encourage individuals to pursue goals that fit with their personal interests and values and to create circumstances which support this.

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