A Goal by Any Other Name: Effects of Different Goal Elicitation Methods on Goal Pursuit


  • Marina Milyavskaya Orcid
  • Isabelle Leduc-Cummings
  • Kendra Carnrite
  • Carter Richards
  • Jasmin Yee


There are many ways in which researchers ask participants about their personal goals or projects, yet findings are subsequently considered interchangeable. This study experimentally tested whether different ways of asking participants about their goals elicits different goals and impacts reports of goal progress. Undergraduate participants (N = 285) were assigned to one of three conditions (personal projects, personal goals, open-ended goals), listed an unlimited number of goals they were currently pursing, rated each goal on a series of goal characteristics, and six weeks later reported on their goal progress. Results indicated that participants reported significantly more goals in the personal project condition than in the other two conditions, and that these goals were rated as less difficult. Overall, the present study provides further insight into the effects of the elicitation methods employed in goal pursuit research.