Purpose Regulation of Human Behavior



In descriptions of the determination of human behavior, along with the influences of his past experience or the current situation, in modern personality psychology, the constructs of the future (life plans, possible I, etc.) begin to occupy an increasing place, among which the goals of a person play an important role. Goals are the most important regulator of human activity, the implementation of which requires an image of the result to which it is aimed (“the model of the necessary future” according to Bernstein). Goals, in contrast to motives and needs related to the same phenomenological field, are situational in nature. Lewin’s concept of life space emphasizes the inextricable connection of a person with situations and the context of life activity; to concretize this connection, Thomas introduces the concept of “defining a situation”, Vygotsky — “experiencing”. The notion of purpose must be included in these descriptions: “defining the situation” is cognitive, “experiencing” describes the affective component of this connection, “goal” refers to the missing “behavioral” (“efficient”) component; in interaction with the situation, all these components “work” together, ensuring its understanding, assessment of significance and its compliance with the goals of the person. In accordance with the concept of the contextual nature of goals, a level differentiation of goal regulation is proposed, which appears as tasks to be solved when interacting with specific situations, as goals proper in a life context, and as meanings when interacting with existential reality. We put the contex tual understanding of goals as the basis of a hypothetical model of goal regulation, which was tested in an empirical study. The results obtained showed the connection between a person’s goals and the probability of their achievement in the specific conditions of his life situation, assessed by him in terms of how much he has already managed to realize the plans and expectations of the past, and the significance of goals in specific areas of life is determined by what he is ready to do for them, achievements, including changing one’s life situation or changing oneself. Thus, the thesis about the contextual nature of goals was confirmed.+

General Information

Keywords: goal, goal regulation, contextual nature of goals, level differentiation

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology of Psychology

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21638/spbu16.2023.302

Funding. The study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant no. 22-28-00871.

Received: 22.03.2023


For citation: Grishina N.V. Purpose Regulation of Human Behavior. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2023. Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 310–323. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2023.302. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


Argyle, M., Furnham, A., Graham, J. (1981). Social Situations. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Information About the Authors

Nataliya V. Grishina, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Department of Personality Psychology, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6763-7389, e-mail: n.v.grishina@spbu.ru



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