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Goal conflict, ambivalence and psychological distress: Concurrent and longitudinal relationships
Nicholas J. Moberly1*
Joanne M. Dickson2
1Mood Disorders Centre, University of Exeter, UK (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, Australia (email@example.com)
Accepted for publication on 5 March 2018 in Personality and Individual Differences
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (RES-063-27-0254).
Conflict between goals (inter-goal conflict) and conflicting feelings about attaining particular goals
(ambivalence) are believed to be associated with depressive and anxious symptoms, but have rarely
been investigated together. Kelly et al. (2011, Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 531-534)
reported that inter-goal conflict interacted with ambivalence to predict concurrent depressive
symptoms in undergraduates, with ambivalence being more strongly associated with depressive
symptoms for persons reporting less inter-goal conflict. We sought to replicate and extend this finding
in a larger sample, using separate measures of inter-goal conflict and facilitation, and a longitudinal
follow-up. Undergraduates (N = 210) rated their goal strivings for ambivalence, inter-goal conflict and
facilitation, and completed measures of depressive and anxious symptoms that were repeated after one
month. Inter-goal conflict (but not facilitation) and ambivalence were both uniquely positively
associated with depressive and anxious symptoms concurrently, but did not predict symptom change.
Inter-goal conflict and ambivalence did not interact to predict concurrent symptoms, but inter-goal
conflict was associated with greater reductions in anxious symptoms for people reporting low
ambivalence. Findings suggest that different forms of motivational conflict across the goal hierarchy
are associated with symptoms, but do not exacerbate symptoms over time.
Keywords: goals; conflict; ambivalence; depression; anxiety; motivation
Making progress on personal goals imbues life with meaning and contributes to well-being
(Brunstein, 1993; Klinger, 1977; Klug & Maier, 2015), so it is unsurprising that goal conflict has long
been considered to be associated with psychological distress (Higginson, Mansell, & Wood, 2009).
This article examines how two different forms of conflict (inter-goal conflict and goal ambivalence)
contribute to anxious and depressive symptoms.
A person experiences inter-goal conflict when one of their goals makes it more difficult to
pursue their other goals (Emmons, 1986; Riediger & Freund, 2004). For example, a person’s goal to
‘spend more time with my family’ may conflict with their goal to ‘get promoted at work’. Conversely,
a person may experience inter-goal facilitation if one of their goals makes it easier to pursue their
other goals (e.g., ‘spend more time with family’ may facilitate the goal to ‘deepen my relationships’).
Inter-goal conflict is associated with negative affect and lower life satisfaction (Emmons, 1986) and
more psychiatric symptoms among undergraduates (Perring, Oatley, & Smith, 1988) and adolescents
(Dickson & Moberly, 2010). However, some studies using undergraduate samples have not found
associations between inter-goal conflict and depressive (Emmons and King, 1988, Study 2; King,
Richards, & Stemmerich, 1998; Segerstrom & Solberg Nes, 2006) or anxious symptoms (Emmons
and King, 1988, Study 2). In community samples, no significant correlations emerged between inter-
goal conflict and depressive symptoms (Wallenius, 2000) or negative affect (Kehr, 2003; Romero,
Villar, Luengo, & Gómez-Fraguela, 2009). Equivocal results may reflect the use of bipolar measures
that conflate inter-goal facilitation and conflict. Riediger and Freund (2004) found that unipolar
measures of inter-goal conflict and facilitation loaded on distinct factors, with only inter-goal conflict
being significantly associated with negative affect at the between- and within-person level. Boudreaux
and Ozer (2013) found that inter-goal conflict, but not inter-goal facilitation, was positively correlated
with anxiety and negative affect in undergraduates; the correlation with depressive symptoms was not
significant. In their meta-analysis, Gray, Ozer, and Rosenthal (2017) revealed that goal conflict was
positively associated with psychological distress (weighted effect size: r = .34), with studies using
unipolar scales yielding larger effect sizes.
Inter-goal conflict may be less distressing if it represents competition among goals for a
shared limited resource (e.g., time or money) rather than inherently incompatible outcomes (Riediger
& Freund, 2004; Segerstrom & Solberg Nes, 2006). However, conflicted motives about attaining
specific goals, i.e., ambivalence (Bleuler, 1911; Sincoff, 1994), may illustrate more profound
motivational conflict that is more strongly associated with psychological symptoms. Goal
ambivalence has been conceptualised as an approach-avoidance conflict about the pursuit of a
particular goal (Emmons, King, & Sheldon, 1993) that is generated by conflict between relevant goals
at a higher level in the goal hierarchy (Kelly, Mansell, & Wood, 2015). For example, a student may
feel ambivalent about an essay-writing goal because it is relevant to a higher-level goal conflict
between excelling academically and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Higher-level goal
conflict may be more irresolvable because such goals are self-defining (Powers, 1973).
Goal ambivalence has indeed been found to be associated with anxious and depressive
symptoms among undergraduates (Emmons, 1986; Emmons & King, 1988; King, Richards, &
Stemmerich, 1998; but see Romero et al., 2009, for null results). Other research has examined the
association between psychological symptoms and ambivalence about goals relevant to particular life
stages. For pregnant women, ambivalence about childbirth was associated with concurrent depressive
symptoms and increasing symptoms post-partum (Koletzko, La Marca-Ghaemmaghami, &
Brandstätter, 2015). In another sample, daily fluctuation in ambivalence about having the child was
associated with negative affect. In another study, ambivalence about attaining a degree was associated
with lower life satisfaction both concurrently and longitudinally (Koletzko, Herrmann, & Brandstätter,
Inter-goal conflict and ambivalence may overlap because people will often feel ambivalent
about conflicting goals (Emmons & King, 1988). Indeed, modest positive correlations have been
reported between goal ambivalence and inter-goal conflict at the within-person level (Emmons, 1986;
Emmons & King, 1992; King, Richards, & Stemmerich, 1998), if not at the between-person level.
Few studies have examined whether inter-goal conflict and ambivalence have independent or
interactive associations with symptoms (Kelly et al., 2015). Although Emmons (1986) found that
ambivalence but not inter-goal conflict explained unique variance in psychological symptoms, this
study was underpowered.
Kelly, Mansell, and Wood (2011) reported that goal ambivalence was positively associated
with concurrent depressive and anxious symptoms, whereas inter-goal conflict did not predict
significant additional variance. Moreover, these forms of conflict interacted such that ambivalence
was more strongly associated with depressive symptoms for participants reporting less inter-goal
conflict. The authors speculated that ambivalence may be more distressing if it is not attributable to
the pursuit of conflicting lower-level goals, suggesting that the ambivalence is generated by higher-
level goal conflict. A person who strives to run marathons and learn guitar may report inter-goal
conflict due to limited leisure time, but may experience no ambivalence if these pursuits are consistent
with higher-level goals (Kelly et al., 2015). Conversely, a person who strives to care for the vulnerable
and provide childcare may report no inter-goal conflict, but may experience ambivalence if these
pursuits conflict with a higher-order goal of being independent. A combination of low inter-goal
conflict and high ambivalence may indicate a distressing lack of integration across levels of the goal
hierarchy. However, Kelly et al.’s (2011) result requires replication, and it is unclear whether the
relationship between ambivalence and depressive symptoms is moderated by lower levels of inter-
goal facilitation and/or higher levels of inter-goal conflict.
To further illuminate the unique and interactive relationship between inter-goal conflict,
ambivalence and psychological distress, we extended Kelly et al.’s (2011) research using a larger
sample and distinct measures of inter-goal conflict and facilitation (Riediger & Freund, 2004). We
also examined whether inter-goal conflict, goal ambivalence and their interaction would predict
symptom change over one month, consistent with the notion that inter-goal conflict actively
contributes to psychological distress. Boudreaux and Ozer (2013) found that inter-goal conflict
predicted increases in depressive and anxious symptoms over five weeks in undergraduates. Similarly,
Koletzko, La Marca-Ghaemmeghami, & Brandstätter (2015) found that ambivalence about having a
child in women was associated with worsening depressive symptoms after birth.
Based on the notion that conflict is deleterious at all levels of the goal hierarchy (Powers,
1973), we hypothesised that inter-goal conflict and goal ambivalence would each predict unique
variance in anxious and depressive symptoms. Inter-goal facilitation was included as a covariate, but
was not expected to be associated with anxious or depressive symptoms (Riediger & Freund, 2004).
We sought to replicate Kelly et al.’s (2011) interaction between ambivalence and inter-goal conflict,
such that anxious and depressive symptoms would be highest for individuals reporting high level of
goal ambivalence and low levels of inter-goal conflict. Prospectively, we expected that higher levels
of ambivalence and inter-goal conflict would each predict increases in anxious and depressive
symptoms. More tentatively, we predicted that the interaction between inter-goal conflict and
ambivalence would explain additional variance in symptom change.
Two hundred and ten undergraduate students (169 women, 41 men; M = 20.0 years, SD = 2.5,
range = 18-35) were recruited from the University of Exeter campus via online advertisements.
Participants were remunerated with course credit or £15.
2.2 Materials and procedure
Participants attended an initial 1 h session in which they provided informed consent, before
completing a personal strivings assessment, inter-goal conflict and facilitation matrices, and
depressive and anxious symptom scales.
2.2.1. Personal goal strivings (Emmons, 1986). Participants first read instructions asking them to list
at least ten personal goals, defined as “things that you typically or characteristically are trying to do”,
by completing the stem: “I typically try to…” Examples were provided (e.g., “Convince others that I
am intelligent”) and participants were told that they should list goals that identified them as
individuals, rather than goals that other people thought they should have. Participants who generated
more than ten goals were asked to choose the ten that represented them most accurately. Allowing for
minor wording changes, Emmons (1986) found that 82% of goals were consistent over one year.
2.2.2 Goal ambivalence (Emmons, 1986). Participants rated their ambivalence about each of their
goals on a 6-point scale from 0 (none at all) to 5 (extreme) in response to the following question:
“Sometimes even though we successfully reach a goal, we are unhappy (e.g., if you’re “trying to
become more intimate with someone” and you succeed, you might also feel concern about being tied
down). How much unhappiness do you or will you feel when you are successful in this striving?”
Mean ambivalence scores across goals were calculated for each participant (α = .79). Goal
ambivalence has previously shown a one-year stability correlation of .65 (Emmons & King, 1988).
2.2.3 Inter-goal conflict and facilitation (Riediger & Freund, 2004). Participants next completed two
10 x 10 matrices to rate inter-goal conflict and facilitation respectively. In each matrix, each of the
participant’s ten goals was listed in both rows and columns. In the conflict matrix, participants rated
the extent to which pursuing each of their goals in the rows “makes it more difficult to pursue” each
of the other strivings across the columns. In the facilitation matrix, participants were asked to rate the
extent to which pursuing each of the goals in the rows “makes it easier to pursue” each of the other
goals across the columns, on a 6-point scale from 0 (not at all) to 5 (extremely). Thus, participants
rated the extent to which each of their goals both conflicted with and facilitated each of their other
goals (bidirectionally). Mean inter-goal conflict (α = .91) and facilitation ratings (α = .90) were
calculated for each participant.
2.2.4 Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996). Participants completed the
BDI-II, a validated 22-item scale assessing depressive symptoms over the past two weeks. Each item
is rated on a scale from 0 to 3, yielding a total score from 0 to 66 (α = .90).
2.2.5 Generalized Anxiety Disorder–7 (GAD-7; Spitzer, Kroenke, Williams, & Löwe, 2006).
Participants completed the Generalized Anxiety Disorder–7, a seven-item scale assessing the
frequency of anxious symptoms over the past two weeks. Each item is rated on a four-point scale
from 0 to 3, yielding a total score from 0 to 21 (α = .85).
Participants completed further goal measures not relevant to the current study, before making
an appointment for a follow-up session one month later (M = 35.0 days, SD = 5.4).
2.2.6 Follow-up session. One hundred and ninety-four (92.3%) participants returned for the follow-
up, when they completed the BDI–II (α = .91) and the GAD–71 (α = .85), together with other
measures irrelevant to the current study, before being remunerated.
3.1 Cross-sectional analysis
Table 1 presents correlations and (untransformed) descriptive statistics for all variables. Inter-
goal facilitation scores clustered around the scale midpoint but two-thirds of the sample reported
mean inter-goal conflict and ambivalence scores below 1 on the 0-5 scale. Sample means were below
recommended cut-offs for mild depressive (Beck et al., 1996) and mild anxious symptoms (Spitzer et
al., 2006), and these variables were highly correlated. Due to small means, depressive and anxious
symptom scores, inter-goal conflict and goal ambivalence were positively skewed so were log-
transformed to improve normality. Men reported less inter-goal facilitation than did women, t(208) =
1.99, p = .048, d = .35, but no other significant gender differences emerged.
Inter-goal conflict and ambivalence were each significantly positively correlated with
depressive and anxious symptoms at both time points. At Time 1, inter-goal facilitation was modestly
positively associated with anxious symptoms. Inter-goal conflict and facilitation were positively
correlated between persons: people reporting more conflict among their goals tended to report more
facilitation, perhaps reflecting a general response tendency. However, multi-level models (accounting
for clustering of goals within persons) revealed that inter-goal conflict and facilitation were negatively
correlated at the within-person level: goals that conflicted more with other goals tended to be less
mutually facilitative. Inter-goal conflict and ambivalence were positively correlated at both levels of
analysis. Inter-goal facilitation and ambivalence were not significantly correlated at the between-
person level but were modestly negatively correlated at the within-person level.
1 One participant did not complete the GAD-7 at follow-up.
To assess unique and interactive relationships, inter-goal conflict, facilitation and ambivalence
were each standardised before entry into a multiple regression model as predictors of Time 1
depressive symptoms in the first step, followed by the interactions between (i) inter-goal conflict and
goal ambivalence and (ii) inter-goal facilitation and goal ambivalence in the second step2. When
entered together in the first step, inter-goal conflict, facilitation and goal ambivalence jointly
explained 12.1% of depressive symptom variance, F(3, 206) = 9.44, p < .001. Goal ambivalence was
independently associated with depressive symptoms at Time 1, β = .22, p = .002, as was inter-striving
conflict, β = .20, p = .007, but inter-striving facilitation was not a significant predictor, β = –.00, p = .
99. Critically, when entered in the second step, the interactions between (i) inter-goal conflict and goal
ambivalence, and (ii) inter-striving facilitation and goal ambivalence, jointly failed to explain
significant additional variance in depressive symptoms at Time 1, ∆F(2, 204) < 1, p = .84, with
neither individual interaction reaching significance, ps > .54.
An equivalent multiple regression analysis was conducted to predict Time 1 anxious
symptoms. When standardised and entered simultaneously in the first step, inter-goal conflict,
facilitation and ambivalence explained 14.0% of anxious symptom variance, F(3, 206) = 11.14, p < .
001. Striving ambivalence was independently associated with anxious symptoms at Time 1, β = .23, p
= .001, as was inter-striving conflict, β = .19, p = .009, but inter-striving facilitation was not a
significant predictor, β = .10, p = .13. Critically, when entered in the second step, the interactions
between (i) inter-striving conflict and goal ambivalence, and (ii) inter-striving facilitation and goal
ambivalence, jointly failed to explain significant additional variance in Time 1 anxious symptoms,
∆F(2, 204) < 1, p = .81 , with neither individual interaction reaching significance, ps >.51.
3.2 Longitudinal analysis
2 Exploratory multiple regression analyses revealed no significant interaction between goal facilitation
and goal conflict in predicting (i) depressive or anxious symptoms at Time 1, or (ii) residualised change in
depressive or anxious symptoms at Time 2.
Paired t-tests revealed a small, statistically significant decrease in depressive symptoms from
baseline to follow-up, t(193) = 3.42, p = .001, d = .20, but no statistically significant difference in
anxious symptoms over this period, t(192) = 1.45, p = .15, d = .05. Further multiple regressions
investigated whether inter-goal conflict and ambivalence predicted change in depressive and anxious
symptoms from Time 1 to Time 2 respectively. In the multiple regression predicting Time 2
depressive symptoms, Time 1 depressive symptoms was entered first, followed by standardised inter-
goal conflict, inter-goal facilitation, and goal ambivalence in the second step. Finally, the interactions
between (i) inter-goal conflict and goal ambivalence and (ii) inter-goal facilitation and goal
ambivalence were entered in the third step. Controlling for Time 1 depressive symptoms, inter-goal
conflict, inter-goal facilitation and goal ambivalence jointly failed to explain significant additional
variance in Time 2 depressive symptoms, F(3, 189) = 1.06, p = .37, ∆R² < .01. Goal ambivalence, β
= .10, p = .09, inter-goal conflict, β = –.05, p = .38, and inter-goal facilitation, β = –.00, p = .97, were
not significant predictors. The interactions entered in the third step failed to explain significant
additional variance in Time 2 depressive symptoms, F(2, 187) = 1.35, p = .26, ∆R² < .01, with neither
interaction being significant, ps > .19. Thus, inter-goal conflict, facilitation and goal ambivalence did
not predict change in depressive symptoms, independently or interactively.
In the parallel multiple regression predicting Time 2 anxious symptoms, after entering Time 1
anxious symptoms, simultaneous entry of inter-goal conflict, facilitation and goal ambivalence failed
to explain additional variance in anxious symptoms at Time 2, F(3, 188) < 1, p = .82, ∆R² < .01. Goal
ambivalence, β = .04, p = .43, striving conflict, β = –.04, p = .45, and striving facilitation, β = .00, p
= .97, were not significant predictors. The interactions entered in the third step failed to explain
additional variance in depressive symptoms at Time 2, F(2, 186) = 2.47, p = .09, ∆R² = .01. However,
because the crucial interaction between inter-goal conflict and ambivalence was significant (β = .11, p
= .03; the other interaction was not, p = .77), we proceeded to explicate it.
Figure 1 plots (log) T2 anxious symptoms for persons scoring one standard deviation above
and below the mean on inter-goal conflict and ambivalence, calculated at mean levels of T1 anxious
symptoms and inter-goal facilitation. Tests of simple slopes revealed that higher levels of inter-goal
conflict at Time 1 were associated with reductions in anxious symptoms at Time 2 for persons with
lower goal ambivalence (β = –.15, p = .04). However, levels of inter-goal conflict at Time 1 were not
significantly associated with levels of anxious symptoms at Time 2 for persons with higher goal
ambivalence (β = .04, p = .53).
Our results support theoretical perspectives and empirical research suggesting that goal
conflict is associated with psychological distress (Higginson et al., 2009). The positive association
between inter-goal conflict and concurrent psychological symptoms mirrors the results of a recent
meta-analysis (Gray et al., 2017). As hypothesised, inter-goal facilitation was not uniquely
significantly associated with anxious or depressive symptoms, consistent with distinct relationships
for inter-goal conflict and facilitation (Riediger & Freund, 2004). The relationship between inter-goal
conflict and symptoms is unlikely to be due to a general tendency for distressed people to make more
pessimistic goal ratings, because no negative correlation emerged between inter-goal facilitation and
symptoms. Inter-goal facilitation may be more relevant to psychological well-being than to distress
symptoms (Riediger & Freund, 2004).
Consistent with previous research (Emmons & King, 1988; King et al., 1998), goal
ambivalence was associated with greater anxious and depressive symptoms. Ambivalence was
moderately positively associated with inter-goal conflict at both the between-person and within-
person level of analysis, but was uniquely associated with both anxious and depressive symptoms,
suggesting that they are not mutually redundant. Our study had greater statistical power (.80 to detect
a small-medium effect size f² = .05) than those reported by Emmons (1986) and Kelly et al. (2011),
which may explain why they did not find that goal ambivalence and inter-goal conflict had unique
associations with symptoms. Goal ambivalence and inter-goal conflict may reflect motivational
conflict at higher and lower levels of the goal hierarchy respectively (Kelly et al., 2015). Furthermore,
whereas inter-goal conflict must be consciously reported, ambivalence towards goals could suggest
higher-level goal conflict that is outside conscious awareness. The unique contributions of inter-goal
conflict and ambivalence observed here support the utility of using distinct measures to capture
motivational conflict associated with distress throughout the goal hierarchy.
We found no evidence for an interaction between ambivalence and inter-goal conflict in
predicting concurrent distress symptoms. Using a larger sample and a unipolar measure of inter-goal
conflict, we did not replicate Kelly et al.’s (2011) finding that inter-goal conflict buffered the
relationship between ambivalence and depressive symptoms. These authors speculated that
ambivalence may be more closely associated with psychological distress at lower levels of inter-goal
conflict because this combination implicates unconscious higher-order goal conflicts that are difficult
to resolve. Instead, our results suggest that ambivalence is associated with psychological symptoms at
high and low levels of inter-goal conflict. Thus, psychological distress is associated with both mid-
level conscious conflict and higher-level goal conflict that generates ambivalence (Kelly et al., 2015).
This combination is illustrative of a low level of motivational integration across the goal hierarchy,
which may be consistent with goal blockage and negative affect (Emmons & King, 1988). It is
noteworthy that people with more depressive (and to a lesser extent, anxious) symptoms report
proportionately more abstract goals (Dickson & MacLeod, 2004; Emmons, 1992). Abstract goals are
rated as more difficult (Emmons, 1992), and their centrality to the self may make goal conflicts at this
level appear irresolvable.
Counter to expectations, neither inter-goal conflict nor goal ambivalence predicted change in
anxious or depressive symptoms over one month. Nevertheless, a significant interaction revealed that
people with high levels of inter-goal conflict and low levels of ambivalence experienced reductions in
anxious symptoms. Although it would be inappropriate to over-interpret this unexpected finding,
which did not emerge for depressive symptoms, moderate conflict or differentiation among goal
pursuits may protect against anxiety in the absence of ambivalence. Previous longitudinal studies have
not examined the longitudinal interaction of inter-goal conflict and ambivalence, and should seek to
replicate this result. Our longitudinal results are contrary to Boudreaux and Ozer’s (2013) finding that
goal ambivalence predicted change in depressive symptoms among undergraduates, and Koletzko et
al.’s (2015) finding that mothers’ ambivalence about the specific goal of having a child predicted
increased depressive symptoms post-partum.
It could be concluded that our longitudinal results suggest that inter-goal conflict is a
concomitant rather than a cause of distress. However, depressive and anxious symptoms were highly
stable over the one month period, such that it was difficult for other predictors to predict additional
change. Furthermore, we elicited goals as enduring strivings that are relatively stable (Emmons,
1986), while ambivalence and inter-goal conflict ratings demonstrate considerable stability (Emmons
& King, 1988). Therefore, any long-established pattern of motivational conflict may not predict
further increases in psychological distress. Consistent with this, Kehr (2003) found that emerging but
not enduring inter-goal conflict predicted changes in affect over eight weeks in managers. Studies
indicate that within-person fluctuations in motivational conflict are correlated with state affect
(Koletzko, La Marca-Ghaemmaghami, & Brandstätter, 2015; Riediger & Freund, 2004), suggesting
that changes in inter-goal conflict or ambivalence that are associated with the adoption of new
strivings might predict increases in psychopathology.
Although our findings illuminate the role of distinct forms of motivational conflict in
contributing to psychological distress, this study has limitations. First, we used a single item to
measure goal ambivalence that asked participants to what extent they would experience negative
emotions after goal attainment. Koletzko, La Herrmann, & Brandstätter (2015) argued that this
measure does not capture the contradictory motives entailed in ambivalence, and developed a new
scale for this purpose. Second, we were unable to determine whether the association between inter-
goal conflict and symptoms was related to inherent incompatibility between goals or competition
between goals for a limited resource, although these dimensions correlate positively (Riediger &
Freund, 2004). Some studies (e.g., Segerstrom & Solberg Nes, 2006) have recruited independent
judges to rate inter-goal conflict to obtain more objective judgements, which risks failing to capture
idiosyncrasies relating to personal goal strivings. We used an undergraduate sample whose strivings
may be more homogenous than older adults who have a more consolidated identity. Finally, it is
unclear to what extent our findings are influenced by the inclusion of unknown persons who would
meet diagnostic criteria for mood disorders. Nevertheless, the association between goal conflict and
well-being is relatively consistent across samples (Gray et al., 2017).
In conclusion, our results suggest that both inter-goal and intra-goal conflict are uniquely
associated with psychological distress, such that goal ambivalence is associated with anxious and
depressive symptoms for individuals reporting high and low levels of inter-goal conflict. Although our
results suggest that chronic goal conflict may not exacerbate symptoms, future research could usefully
concentrate on examining cross-lagged relationships between different forms of motivational conflict
and psychological distress in periods when goal strivings are adopted or discarded.
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Table 1. Descriptive statistics and correlations among study variables
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 M SD
1. T1 Depression — .59*** .28*** .07 .29*** .70*** .59*** 9.0 7.8
2. T1 Anxiety — — .29*** .17* .30*** .51*** .72*** 4.2 4.1
3. Inter-goal conflict — — — .26*** .35*** .18* .20** 0.8 0.6
4. Inter-goal facilitation — — –.21*** — .08 .06 .13 2.2 0.8
5. Ambivalence — — .15*** –.09*** — .29*** .24*** 0.8 0.6
6. T2 Depression — — — — — — .67*** 8.0 7.9
7. T2 Anxiety — — — — — — — 3.9 3.9
Note: Between-person correlations are presented above the diagonal, within-person correlations below the diagonal. N = 210 for all
between-person correlations except those involving T2 variables, for which N = 194 (or N = 193 for T2 Anxiety). * p < .05. ** p < .01. ***
p < .001.
Figure 1. Relationship between goal ambivalence, inter-goal conflict at Time 1 and (log-
transformed) anxious symptoms at Time 2, controlling anxious symptoms at Time 1