Carol L. Martin
The Matching Hypothesis
Personal Goals as Windows to Well-Being matching hypothesis suggests that the degree of person-goal fit determines the effect of goal progress and goal achievement on well-being. Pursuit of goals that express or fulfill (i.e., “match”) an individual’s needs, values, motives, or self-conception is more likely to increase well-being than pursuit of goals that do not fit or match with the person. In other words, if you want to increase your happiness and well-being, the “right” goals to pursue are those that fit and express your most important needs, desires, and sense of self. The “wrong” goals are those that are unrelated to these deeper, enduring personal characteristics. (Brunstein et al., 1998).
The personal characteristics that underlie goals may be unique to the individual or shared by all people. For example, goals related to belongingness needs may make successful relationships and social interactions universally important to well-being. To test the matching hypothesis, researchers obtain measures of underlying motivations (such as needs, values, or aspects of self) and ask participants to generate a list of important personal goals. Participants’ goal-related activities and efforts, and their perceived progress toward achieving goals are also assessed. These measures are then related to assessments of well-being across some time period. The matching hypothesis is supported if goal-directed activities and progress that are related to the underlying motive show higher positive correlations with well-being than goals that are unrelated to such a motive. (Brunstein et al., 1998).
Many years ago I set a personal goal to lose over a hundred pounds. My boyfriend proposed to me in August and the wedding was to be the following February. I went to the bridal store and bought a dress that was half the size I was. Knowing the dress was very small...