Goal setting theory and the mystery of setting goals.

Comments on the original article by Locke and Latham (see record 2019-00998-001). In their legacy contribution, Locke and Latham (2019) passionately describe their career paths leading to their seminal book (Locke & Latham, 1990) of Goal Setting Theory (GST). I was fortunate to read the book “hot off the press” when working as a graduate student on the relation between goals and habits. Rooted in industrial psychology, GST aims to predict when people perform best, and especially when goal-setting makes money. I was also reminded that behaviorists discard the goal concept altogether (Skinner, 1953): A goal is nothing more than a convenient concept to study a subject’s habit of responding to a selected object (e.g., food). What to do, then, with the goal concept in research on habits (Aarts & Dijksterhuis, 2000)? I have two things to say. I would like to thank Locke and Latham for bringing the goal concept to the fore in psychology. Goals make people work and adaptable to changes. I also wish to convey some dismay about the theory’s lack of attention to address the processes that intervene between goals and actions, and especially the question how goals are set. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)