What makes goals choiceworthy? A qualitative study of hedonic, eudaimonic, and structural motives

Blaine J. Fowers, Laura M. Cohen, Samantha Lang, Emily Winakur, G. Tyler Lefevor, Meghan B. Owenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research on goal choice has been limited by restricted explanatory categories, unidimensional quantitative ratings of goal importance, and limited samples in academic settings. Open-ended inquiry can yield a much richer picture of goal choices. This grounded theory interview study with 11 college graduates assessed goal importance three times over four months. The grounded theory of goal importance had four coding levels: three theoretical categories (hedonic motives, eudaimonic motives, and structural motives), seven thematic codes, 19 axial codes, and 56 basic codes. Very diverse reasons were reported for goal choice, reflecting aspects of many goal pursuit theories. Respondents gave multiple reasons for pursuing each goal, often in multiple theoretical categories. Basic codes provided the most explanatory information, with higher level categories offering more descriptive information. Results suggest that only complex theories of goal pursuit can encompass the range of goal motives and that qualitative inquiries complement quantitative research by ensuring this breadth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-253
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • eudaimonic
  • goal hierarchy
  • goals
  • grounded theory
  • hedonic
  • motivation
  • prosocial
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'What makes goals choiceworthy? A qualitative study of hedonic, eudaimonic, and structural motives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this