Goal Setting Theory

The goal- setting theory is very efficient and could overcome constraints of strict behavior interventions, in specifying and targeting the desired behavior through goal contracts after the reinforcement through rewards has been withdrawn. However, a mixture of theories and methods will be discussed later (see Section 3.2.6). First, what is the goal-setting theory and how does it work?

Goal-setting is a motivation based cognitive theory, with the fundamental assumption that people's needs can be seen as goals or desired behavior they strive for [23]) The primary representatives with the most complete statement of goal) setting theory are Locke and Latham[24] ) According to them, goals direct and sustain individuals) effort towards activities that are goal-relevant and away from those that are irrelevant [25]) therefore giving meaning to human behavior [24]) Goals can be understood '... as the object or aim of an action [ [ 26]. A description of goals can be made through the two attributes or dimensions: content and intensity [25] [ The attribute content refers to for example, difficulty and specificity, meaning of the goal itself. Whereas intensity is the process of setting and accomplishing goals [25] mediated through factors such as individual cognition, motivation and commitment.

The following findings are essential for goal-setting to be effective in changing behavior [26] :

• The more difficult the goal, the greater the achievement.

• The more specific or explicit the goal, the more precisely performance is regulated.

• Goals that are both specific and difficult lead to the highest performance.

• Commitment to goals is most critical when goals are specific and difficult.

• High commitment to goals is attained when (i) the individual is convinced that the goal is important; and (ii) the individual is convinced that the goal is attainable (or that, at least, progress can be made toward it).

With regard to energy and environmentally sustainable behavior, we may assume that goals will direct awareness onto energy conservation and further foster concrete behavior which is relevant in reducing the use of this resource. However, feedback about the progress of reaching certain goals needs to be provided because otherwise behavior corrections or even the matching of the goals cannot be assessed. Written lists and contracts increase the commitment towards reaching the set goals.

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