Disordered environments prompt mere goal pursuit

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The researchers evaluated the campaign of bombing in Britain in early WWII. In the midst of the chaos of the bombings, how did the posters “Keep Calm and Carry On?” do? Were they effective in calming the nerves of the people frayed by the bombings?

Do people find and pursue goals regardless of if the goals are tied directly to a result of disorder? Does it help them cope with the lack of order in other areas?

The authors propose that goal setting and striving to achieve goals brings calm in the midst of the things that are going on.

They define goals as “…concrete, domain specific representations of desirable end states that people want to attain and/or undesirable ones that they try to avoid”

There was a correlation between disorder and seeking goals. This means that the participants with a higher experienced disorder felt more attracted to a reward program with a clear and specific endpoint.

We have a strong need to perceive our environment as a place of order, one that we have some control over. This study affirmed that when you have more disorder, you are more attracted to goals that let you feel in control. The goals don’t have anything to do with the disorder, or at least they don’t have to. You just want to achieve goals so that you have some control and thus order over something.

It seems to me that disordered environments then make it easier to grab any goal and run with it. Since we’re searching for any control in the midst of chaos, do we evaluate what it is the best goals for us to pursue?

Fennis, B. M., & Wiebenga, J. H. (2015). Disordered environments prompt mere goal pursuit. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 43, 226-237. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.07.005

Find Online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494415300256

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