Goal Hierarchy: A Brief Summary of How Focusing on Superordinate Goals Motivates Broad, Long-Term Goal Pursuit: A Theoretical Perspective by Höchli et al., (2018).
By Michaela Anderson
Have you ever wondered whether setting goals in a certain way affects the likelihood of a successful outcome? The article How Focusing on Superordinate Goals Motivates Broad, Long- Term Goal Pursuit: A Theoretical Perspective by Höchli et al. (2018) examined the theoretical and empirical evidence on goal hierarchy. The authors argue that goal-setting, in a hierarchical manner, positively contributes to successful goal pursuit (Höchli et al., 2018). The authors found a limitation in the current research that studies typically examine the effect of setting a specific, concrete, and challenging goal versus an abstract, vague goal on the performance of a single task (Höchli et al., 2018). They argue that goal-setters should subdivide their goals in order to improve performance and motivation (Höchli et al., 2018). The authors argue that having both clear high-level goals and low-level goals can help goal-setters overcome the challenges of maintaining long-term motivation, resisting temptations, and maintaining resilience (Höchli et al., 2018).
There is an interconnectedness between the levels of goals; higher goals determine more concrete goals at the intermediate level, and intermediate goals determine the lower-level goals in a top-down activation (Höchli et al., 2018). Goal-setting theory has studied and shown a strong correlation between the process by which subordinate goals increase performance; this article attempts to address how superordinate goals can increase motivation and foster goal pursuit (Höchli et al., 2018).
Superordinate goals are intertwined with a person's conceptualized identity; they describe how a person wants to be and reflect what is or is not important to a person (Höchli et al., 2018). Identity-based superordinate goals foster long-term goal pursuit because it provides enhanced meaning, strengthens guidance, and heightens the importance of a goal (Höchli et al., 2018). These superordinate goals can also foster a broad, long-term vision of goal pursuit, which allows a person to be resilient in the face of short-term temptation, and allow flexibility over the long- term (Höchli et al., 2018). The authors argue that superordinate goals alone are not advantageous in goal pursuit and that they should be combined with intermediate and subordinate goals in order to capitalize on their benefits (Höchli et al., 2018). Goal-setting theory has linked subordinate goals to boosts motivation at much higher levels than superordinate goals in terms of initiating action (Höchli et al., 2018). It did, however, show a correlation between superordinate goals aiding the goal-setter in long-term behaviour sustainability, allowing for greater success in habit development (Höchli et al., 2018).
This article offers evidence that combining goals at different hierarchical levels can increase motivation and long-term sustainability of goal pursuit (Höchli et al., 2018).
Höchli, B., Brügger, A., & Messner, C. (2018). How Focusing on Superordinate Goals Motivates Broad, Long-Term Goal Pursuit: A Theoretical Perspective. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1879. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01879 Retrieved on April 5th, 2020
from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6176065/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6176065