How to Work Hard: Tight Linkage of Conscientiousness with Twelve Mechanisms of Goal Setting Theory
34 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2023
Conscientiousness (C) is manifested in orderly, responsible, industrious, ambitious, dutiful, and rule-abiding behaviors and in desired outcomes across domains as diverse as work, health, and relationships. How C disposes individuals to these behaviours and attain these life outcomes, however, is unclear. In two studies (total n= 517), we test a model of C as operating via goal setting systems specified by Goal Setting Theory (GST: Locke & Latham, 2002). In study 1, measures of ten goal setting motives proposed in GST were developed and tested. All scales showed statistically significant and strong associations with C (mean 𝛽 = 0.46). Study 2 was pre-registered and improved scale reliability and coverage (adding two goal setting systems omitted in study 1). All predicted associations replicated with similar large magnitudes. This tight mapping of conscientiousness to systems uncovered by GST corroborates a model of C as strongly rooted in intentional goal setting, potentially explaining why C is linked to attainment across such diverse swathes of life by progressing any pathway impacted by goal setting. Framing C in terms of effects on goal setting systems integrates personality research with motivation research and suggests targets for managing performance.
Keywords: Goal Setting Theory, Goals, Conscientiousness, motivation, self-control, self-regulation
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