You Cannot Have Your Cake and Eat It, too: How Induced Goal Conflicts Affect Complex Problem Solving

Blech, Christine and Funke, Joachim (2010) You Cannot Have Your Cake and Eat It, too: How Induced Goal Conflicts Affect Complex Problem Solving. [Journal (Paginated)]

Full text available as:

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.



Managing multiple and conflicting goals is a demand typical to both everyday life and complex coordination tasks. Two experiments (N = 111) investigated how goal conflicts affect motivation and cognition in a complex problem- solving paradigm. In Experiment 1, participants dealt with a game-like computer simulation involving a predefined goal relation: Parallel goals were independent, mutually facilitating, or interfering with one another. As expected, goal conflicts entailed lowered motivation and wellbeing. Participants’ understanding of causal effects within the simulation was im- paired, too. Behavioral measures of subjects’ interventions support the idea of adaptive, self-regulatory processes: reduced action with growing awareness of the goal conflict and balanced goal pursuit. Experiment 2 endorses the hypotheses of motivation loss and reduced acquisition of system-related knowledge in an extended problem-solving paradigm of four conflicting goals. Impairing effects of goal interference on motivation and wellbeing were found, although less distinct and robust as in Experiment 1. Participants undertook fewer interventions in case of a goal conflict and acquired less knowledge about the system. Formal complexity due to the interconnectedness among goals is discussed as a limiting influence on inferring the problem structure.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:complex problem solving, goal conflicts, motivation, system knowledge, strategy
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
ID Code:6867
Deposited By:Funke, Dr. Joachim
Deposited On:01 Jul 2010 02:15
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:57

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

[1] Kaplan RS, Norton DP. The balanced scorecard – measures that drive performance. Harvard Business Rev 1992; 70: 71-9.

[2] Dörner D, Kreuzig HW, Reither F, Stäudel T. Lohhausen.

Lohhausen. Problem solving in uncertain and complex problems.

Bern: Huber 1983.

[3] Graham JA, Argyle M, Furnham A. The goal structure of

[12] Vollmeyer R, Burns BD. Hypothesis instruction and goal specificity: factors influencing the learning and control of complex systems. Z Exp Psychol 1996; 43: 657-83.

[13] Vollmeyer R, Burns BD, Holyoak KJ. The impact of goal specificity on strategy use and the acquisition of problem structure. Cognitive Sci 1996; 20: 75-100.

[14] Morgan PL, Fuchs D, Compton DL, Cordray DS, Fuchs LS. Does early reading failure decrease children's reading motivation? J Learn Disabil 2008; 41: 387-404.

[15] Moulton RW. Effects of success and failure on level of aspiration as related to achievement motives. J Pers Soc Psychol 1965; 1: 399-406.

[16] Weiner B. The effects of unsatisfied achievement motivation on persistence and subsequent performance. J Pers 1965; 33: 428-42.

[17] Rasmussen HN, Wrosch C, Scheier MF, Carver CS. Self-regulation processes and health: the importance of optimism and goal adjustment. J Pers 2006; 74: 1721-47.

[18] Fiedler K, Nickel S, Asbeck J, Pagel U. Mood and the generation effect. Cognition Emotion 2003; 17: 585-608.

[19] Klahr D, Dunbar K. Dual space search during scientific reasoning. Cognitive Sci 1988; 12: 1-55.

[20] Klahr D. Exploring science: the cognition and development of discovery processes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2000.

[21] Rheinberg F, Vollmeyer R, Rollett W. Motivation and self- regulated learning: a type analysis with process variables. Psychologia 2002; 45: 237-49.

[22] Schauble L. The development of scientific reasoning in knowledge- rich contexts. Dev Psychol 1996; 32: 102-19.

[23] Tschirgi JE. Sensible reasoning: a hypothesis about hypotheses. Child Dev 1980; 51: 1-10.

[24] Repenning A. AgentSheets (1.6 X). Boulder, CO: AgentSheets Inc. 2003.

[25] Rheinberg F, Vollmeyer R, Burns BD. FAM: a questionnaire to assess current motivation in learning situations. Diagnostica 2001; 47: 57-66.

[26] Kohli GS. Stress and anger reactions in psychosomatic and healthy persons. Ph.D. diss., Dept of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität München 1988.

[27] Scott SG, Bruce RA. Decision-making style: the development and assessment of a new measure. Educ Psychol Meas 1995; 55: 818-

situations. Eur J Soc Psychol 1980; 10: 345-66.

[4] Schubert T. The analysis of dual-task interference effects. Z Exp 31.

Psychol 1996; 43: 625-56.

[5] Lewin K. The psychological situation in reward and punishment.

Leipzig: Hirzel 1931.

[6] Brunstein JC, Maier GW. Personal goals: a state-of-the-art review.

Psychol Rundsch 1996; 47: 146-60.

[7] Riediger M, Freund AM. Interference and facilitation among

personal goals: differential associations with subjective well-being

and persistent goal pursuit. Pers Soc Psychol B 2004; 30: 1511-23.

[8] Emmons RA. Abstract versus concrete goals: personal striving level, physical illness, and psychological well-being. J Pers Soc

Psychol 1992; 62: 292-300.

[9] Emmons RA, King LA. Conflict among personal strivings:

immediate and long-term implications for psychological and

physical well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol 1988; 54: 1040-8. [10] Kehr HM. Goal conflicts, attainment of new goals, and well-being

among managers. J Occup Health Psychol 2003; 8: 195-208. [11] Funke J. Dealing with dynamic systems: research strategy, diagnostic approach and experimental results. Ger J Psychol 1992; 16: 24-43.

[28] Kuhl J. A theory of self-regulation: Action versus state orientation, self-discrimination, and some applications. Appl Psychol-Int Rev 1992; 41: 97-129.

[29] Brunstein JC. Personal goals and subjective well-being: A longitudinal study. J Pers Soc Psychol 1993; 65: 1061-70.

[30] Niemivirta M. Motivation and performance in context: The influence of goal orientations and instructional setting on situational appraisals and task performance. Psychologia 2002; 45: 250-70.

[31] Birney DP, Halford GS. Cognitive complexity of suppositional reasoning: An application of the relational complexity metric to the knight-knave task. Think Reason 2002; 8: 109-34.

[32] Halford GS, Wilson WH, Phillips S. Processing capacity defined by relational complexity: implications for comparative, developmental, and cognitive psychology. Behav Brain Sci 1998; 21: 803-65.

[33] Vollmeyer R, Rheinberg F. Motivational influences on the acquisition and application of knowledge in a computer-simulated system. Z Padagog Psychol 1998; 12: 11-23.


Repository Staff Only: item control page