The Importance of Goal Priorities in Adolescence


Michael Adams

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The following study was designed to examine the goals of adolescents? and how they prioritize them. A newly created goal measure assessed 3 hypothesized goal constructs: academic performance goal, popularity goal, and well-liking goal. Participants were 405 sixth grade students (219 boys, 186 girls; M = 11.51 years, SD = 0.61) attending a moderately sized middle school in a lower-class section of Los Angeles County. The participants ethnic backgrounds were primarily Hispanic (88%), with 6% Asian and 6% other (African American, Native American, mixed race). A peer nomination inventory assessed aspects of adolescents? social standing with peers (i.e., liking, popularity, disliking and unpopularity), reciprocated friendships and social behavior. Participants completed self-report inventories assessing their goal priorities. A confirmatory factor analysis, internal reliability analyses, and regression analyses were conducted to explore how adolescents? prioritize their goals and what social behaviors are associated with specific goals. The first two sets of analyses showed 3 factors and showed a highly reliable measure. In the second set of analyses, the results showed that popularity was negatively associated with the academic performance goal (b= -2.81, p<.01). Ethnic identification was positively associated with all three goals: academic (b = 5.91, p<.001), liking (b = 5.48, p<.001), and popularity (b = 3.71, p<.001). These data are an important first step in efforts to understand the role that goal priorities play in adolescents? social and academic adjustment at school.


Andrea Hopmeyer Gorman




Ford Research Endowment

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