How many roads lead to Rome? Equifinality set-size and commitment to goals and means



Four studies examined the relation between the number of equifinal means to a goal, actors' commitment to that goal, and their commitment to the means. In Study 1, participants freely generated varying number of means to two of their work goals. In Study 2, they generated social means to their goals (people they viewed as helpful to goal attainment). In Studies 3 and 4, the number of means to participants' goals was experimentally manipulated. All four studies found that means commitment is negatively related, whereas goal commitment is positively related, to means number. Consistent support was also obtained for the notion that the relation between means number and goal commitment is mediated by the expectancy of goal attainment, and by goal importance. Conceptual and practical implications of the findings were considered that link together the notions of substitutability and dependency within a goal systemic framework. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.