Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Ron Friedman & Andrew J. Elliot
Goals are a form of self-regulation adopted by humans to achieve specific aims. By focusing people's attention, goals facilitate responses that are compatible with people's objectives. Although the behavior of lower animals is controlled by biological mechanisms, human functioning is more flexible. Humans have the ability to regulate their responses beyond biologically based propensities. Goals represent one form of selfRegulation common in people's daily lives. While the specific content of people's goals vary considerably, a number of features have been identified by psychologists as common to all goals. Goals are mental ideas, or cognitive representations , meaning that they are based in the mind. Consequently, goals can only be inferred, rather than observed. Furthermore, goals are restricted to animals that use their mind in the process of regulation. The actions of plant life, therefore, are not seen as goal-directed behavior. A blossoming rose bush, for example, is simply reacting to ...