Thesis Title

The Effects of Goal Difficulty and Self-Evaluation on Mood

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Thomas Kane


The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of goal difficulty and self-evaluation on mood over the course of an academic semester. Participants were divided into two groups. One group was asked to set "very diffcult" academic goals, while the other group was asked to set "realistic" academic goals. Half of the participants within each of these groups were randomly assigned to receive a survey every two weeks asking them about various aspects of their goal (i.e., progress, strategies used to attain goal, time spent on goal etc.). Dependent measures of mood were observed for all participants on three occasions (baseline, six weeks, and 10 weeks) over the course of a ten-week period. Measures of mood included the Beck Depression Inventory, anxiety items from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, the Subjective Happiness Scale, a state hope scale, and the Positive and Negative Affect Survey. The results indicated that depression levels decreased for those participants who had the opportunity to self-evaluate their goal progress. However, depression levels increased for those participants who did not have this opportunity. Furthermore, results provided some suggestion that those who are depressed did not benefit from self-evaluation to the same extent as those who were not depressed. There was no indication that goal difficulty had a significant impact on subsequent mood.

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© Noah J Mosier