Extreme goal setting and vulnerability to mania among undiagnosed young adults

Sheri L. Johnson, Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


During euthymia people with bipolar disorder and their unaffected family members accomplish more than the general population. People with bipolar disorder, or those who are at risk for it, also set higher goals in laboratory tasks than other people. The work reported here examines whether persons vulnerable to mania set elevated goals in their lives. In two studies, a measure of lifetime vulnerability to mania was related to traits bearing on incentive sensitivity, and also to endorsement of high ambitions for fame, wealth, and political influence (assessed by a new measure). Relations were weaker to ambitions for other kinds of extreme goals. The effects were independent of current symptoms of mania and depression and lifetime depression. There was also evidence that incentive sensitivity and elevated aspirations made independent contributions to variance in the measure of manic risk. Discussion focuses on the implications of high goal setting for understanding goal dysregulation and mania.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-395
Number of pages19
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambition
  • Cognition
  • High risk
  • Mania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology


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