Giving up on unattainable goals: benefits for health?

Date of Original Version




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Abstract or Description

Three studies examined associations between goal disengagement and goal reengagement tendencies and indicators of physical health (e.g., health problems, cortisol rhythms, sleep efficiency). Based on research showing that goal adjustment tendencies are associated with subjective well-being, the authors predicted that people who are better able to disengage from unattainable goals and reengage with alternative goals also may experience better physical health. Across the three studies, the findings demonstrate that the ability to disengage from unattainable goals is associated with better self-reported health and more normative patterns of diurnal cortisol secretion. Goal reengagement, by contrast, was unrelated to indicators of physical health but buffered some of the adverse effects of difficulty with goal disengagement. The results also indicate that subjective well-being can mediate the associations between goal disengagement tendencies and physical health.




Published In

Personality and social psychology bulletin, 33, 2, 251-265.