Downgrading goal-relevant resources in action crises: The moderating role of goal reengagement capacities and effects on well-being

  • Marcel HerrmannEmail author
  • Veronika Brandstätter
  • Carsten Wrosch
Original Paper


If the pursuit of a goal falls short of expectations, doubts can arise as to whether a followed path should be changed. This decisional conflict is defined as action crisis. In two longitudinal studies of university students, an action crisis resulted in a downgrading of goal-relevant resources among participants with limited goal reengagement capacities, who struggle to identify and commit to new projects when unattainable goals are encountered. Theoretically, this devaluation of goal-relevant resources is explained by a shift from an optimistic towards an unbiased cognitive orientation in action crises. However, an action crisis did not result in a downgrading of resources if unattainable goals, in the past, could generally be replaced with viable alternatives (high goal reengagement capacities). Downgrading goal-relevant resources, furthermore, was identified as a mediating mechanism partly underlying reported effects of action crises on health and well-being. The present article provides new insights into self-regulatory processes during goal striving.


Action crisis Goal reengagement capacities Goal-relevant resources Goal striving Self-regulation 



We would like to thank Antonia Kreibich for her valuable assistance in the preparation of the data reported in this manuscript.


This research was funded by a grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to Veronika Brandstätter (100014_159389). The SNSF had no role in study design, in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, in the writing of the report, and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Both studies were conducted according to the ethical principles of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the guidelines of the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Zurich. With reference to the publication bias (Dickersin 1990), the authors assure that the present research questions were only tested in the two studies presented in this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcel Herrmann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Veronika Brandstätter
    • 1
  • Carsten Wrosch
    • 3
  1. 1.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Diagnostics and Counselling, Psychological Institute, School of Applied PsychologyZurich University of Applied SciencesZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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