Autonomous Versus Controlled Goal Motivation Differentially Predicts Goal Progress and Well-Being Through Emotion Regulation Styles

Moti Benita, Reout Arbel, Marina Milyavskaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined whether autonomous versus controlled goals differentially predict goal progress, wellbeing, and goal attainment through integrative emotion regulation versus suppressive emotion regulation, respectively. In Study 1, 264 students reported on their academic goals with respect to midterm exams, their goal motivations, emotion regulation styles, goal progress, and positive and negative affect. Three questionnaires were completed at 2-week intervals before exams, and one questionnaire was completed a month afterward. Study 2 was a daily diary study, in which 154 students completed the same questionnaires 10 days before an exam.We analyzed the data using multilevel structural equation modeling. In both studies, autonomous goal motivation predicted integrative emotion regulation, which in turn positively predicted goal progress/ attainment and well-being. However, only in Study 1 did controlled goal motivation predict suppressive emotion regulation and goal progress/attainment. In both studies, however, controlled goal motivation positively predicted negative affect, and suppressive emotion regulation negatively predicted goal progress and positively predicted negative affect. This research supports and extends previous findings on the benefits of autonomous goal motivation and integrative emotion regulation for goal pursuit, as well as the costs of controlled goal motivation and suppressive emotion regulation. In addition, both studies indicate that there is an autonomous path to goal pursuit, but the evidence for a controlled path to goal pursuit is inconclusive.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMotivation Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Psychological Association


  • autonomous goal motivation
  • controlled goal motivation
  • goal pursuit
  • integrative emotion regulation
  • suppressive emotion regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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