Research on personal goals in relation to subjective well-being (SWB) typically involves appraisals of these goals on a number of appraisal dimensions. In this study, we examined how dimensional specificity affects predictions of SWB. Two studies were conducted. In the first, 19 doctoral candidates were interviewed with respect to their personal projects. Using a grounded-theory approach to the interview transcripts, 11 context-specific dimensions were identified: time pressure, time conflict, procrastination, anxiety, guilt, financial stress, uncertainty, social support, passion, commitment and positive effects on mood. These dimensions were then used in a second study of 81 doctoral students who completed a questionnaire package including: Personal Projects Analysis (PPA), the NEO Personality Inventory, and SWB measures. Regression analyses revealed that the context-specific PPA dimensions identified in Study 1 accounted for unique variance in perceptions of life satisfaction and provided a more detailed perspective on doctoral students' stress and coping resources. The results of the two studies are discussed in terms of the Personal Action Constructs now being used in studies of the conative aspects of well-being.

Social Indicators Research
Department of Psychology

Pychyl, T.A, & Little, B.R. (1998). Dimensional specificity in the prediction of subjective well-being: Personal projects in pursuit of the PhD. Social Indicators Research, 45(1-3), 423–473.