Date of Award

5-14-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Thesis

First Advisor

Brian Giesler

Abstract

Prior research has shown that positive affect helps individuals to achieve their goals. typically by energizing individuals' performance during goal pursuit. However, questions remain as to whether other mechanisms might exist by which positive affect could facilitate success. Specifically, researchers have yet to address the role that positive affect might play during the process of goal adoption. In the current study, I examined whether positive affect experienced at the time of goal adoption facilitates goal achievement. Participants were induced into either a positive or neutral affective state by watching a video clip. They were also asked to adopt the goal of performing well on a mental rotation task. All participants then completed the mental rotation task; performance on the task was analyzed in terms of speed and accuracy. Task performance was significantly better for the positive affect groups compared to the neutral affect group. indicating that positive affect during goal formation may be beneficial. However. the induced positive affect persisted longer than anticipated, and many of the participants in the positive affect groups began the task while still in a positive affective state. Thus, improved performance may have been due to the ' energizing' effects of positive affect instead of the hypothesized effect during goal adoption. This research may help identify what conditions are ideal for goal adoption and explain why people are better able to achieve some goals and not others.