A Goal Systems - Self-Regulatory Perspective on Personality, Psychopathology, and Change

Paul Karoly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


A motivational framework is presented linking personal goals and self-regulatory functions to normal personality, psychopathology, and the processes of change. First, the utility of goals as a "final common analytic pathway" or integrative unit is considered. Next, the premises of an emerging, goal-centered conception of adaptive functioning are discussed as a prelude to the author's outlining of a multidimensional working model of "goal systems." Reactive depression is reconceptualized in terms of specific self-regulatory dysfunctions under the influence of goal systems to illustrate how dysfunctional goal systems can serve as the central organizing component of psychopathology. A set of 10 propositions pinpoints goal-based sources of vulnerability to self-regulatory dysfunction in depression. A set of 5 propositions details the potential goal-based sources of maintenance of self-regulatory deficits. Finally, 14 theory-based principles of psychotherapeutic change are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-291
Number of pages28
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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