Cognitive Processes in Response to Goal Failure: A Study of Ruminative Thought and its Affective Consequences.


Journal Article

Failure to make progress toward personal goals can lead to negative affective states, such as depression and anxiety. Past research suggests that rumination in response to goal failure may prolong and intensify those acute emotional responses, but that process remains unclear. We examined ruminative thought processes following experimentally manipulated exposure to past failures to attain advancement (promotion) goals and safety (prevention) goals. We predicted that priming of past promotion and prevention goal failures would lead individuals to think repetitively about these failures and that negative affect would be evoked by their recognition of their failures. Further, we predicted that when people experience a sufficient magnitude of negative affect, ruminative thought would intensify and prolong the negative affect associated with that type of goal failure. Results yielded strong support for our predictions regarding promotion goal failure and modest support for those regarding prevention goal failure.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jones, NP; Papadakis, AA; Orr, CA; Strauman, TJ

Published Date

  • May 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 32 / 5

PubMed ID

  • 24353371

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24353371

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1943-2771

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0736-7236

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1521/jscp.2013.32.5.482


  • eng