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Abstract

This article extends the literature regarding goal-directed behavior as modeled by the theory of trying by incorporating the concept of the hierarchy of goals. Individuals develop “programs” intended to implement their principles and life goals. Within these programs, goals are arranged in a hierarchical order depending on how close they are to the overall goal of the program. Lower-level goals are intended to set the stage for the achievement of higher-level goals. Although most tests of the theory of trying have been implemented with the use of fairly low-level goals (losing weight or learning a new piece of software), in this article, the model is applied in the context of a higher-level goal: achieving a college education. There are important differences in the results compared to those in prior tests of the theory of trying. Most importantly, attitude toward failure is highly significant and attitude toward process is not. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.