Get a Taste of Your Goals: Promoting Motive–Goal Congruence Through Affect-Focus Goal Fantasy


  • This article is based on parts of the first author's dissertation thesis. We are grateful to Martin Pletscher and Sandra Henlein, who assisted in data collection. We thank Thomas Langens, Gabriele Oettingen, and Mathias Allemand for their comments on earlier versions of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Veronika Job or Veronika Brandstätter, Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Binzmühlestrasse 14/6, 8050 Zürich, Switzerland. E-mail: or


ABSTRACT Studies show that motive–goal congruence is an important predictor of well-being (Baumann, Kaschel, & Kuhl, 2005; Brunstein, Schultheiss, & Grässmann, 1998). However, little is known about the factors that promote congruence between implicit motives and goals. Relying on McClelland's (1985) concept of implicit motives and the theory of fantasy realization (Oettingen, 1999), we postulated that goal fantasies focusing on motive-specific affective incentives promote motive-congruent goal setting. This hypothesis was tested in 3 experimental studies. In Study 1 (n=46) and Study 2 (n=48), participants were asked to select goals in a hypothetical scenario. In Study 3 (n=179), they rated their commitment to personal goals for their actual life situation. The results of all 3 studies supported our hypothesis that participants who focus on motive-specific affective incentives in their goal fantasies set their goals in line with their corresponding implicit motive dispositions.