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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Motivation and Emotion
Volume (Issue) 43(4)
Page(s) 535 - 553
Title of proceedings Motivation and Emotion
DOI 10.1007/s11031-019-09755-z


If the pursuit of a goal falls short of expectations, doubts can arise as to whether a followed path should be changed. This decisional conflict is defined as action crisis. In two longitudinal studies of university students, an action crisis resulted in a downgrading of goal-relevant resources among participants with limited goal reengagement capacities, who struggle to identify and commit to new projects when unattainable goals are encountered. Theoretically, this devaluation of goal-relevant resources is explained by a shift from an optimistic towards an unbiased cognitive orientation in action crises. However, an action crisis did not result in a downgrading of resources if unattainable goals, in the past, could generally be replaced with viable alternatives (high goal reengagement capacities). Downgrading goal-relevant resources, furthermore, was identified as a mediating mechanism partly underlying reported effects of action crises on health and well-being. The present article provides new insights into self-regulatory processes during goal striving.