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Vision Theory vs. Goal-Setting Theory: A Critical Analysis

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Abstract

In recent years, vision has become a major theme in language motivation research, capturing a core feature of modern theories of language motivation. However, empirical investigations have mostly followed the prototypical design of administering self-report questionnaires and examining correlations among a handful of variables. At the same time, substantial overlap can be found between the current conceptualization of vision theory and the long-standing tradition of goal-setting theory. After demonstrating this substantial overlap, and taking our cues from goal-setting theory, this paper highlights critical gaps in current research into vision, including its sensory element, characteristics of effective vision, vision evolution over time, vision multiplicity and potential inter-vision conflict, vision mediators, collective vision, and the role of emotions and self-satisfaction at the end. The ultimate aim of this article is to propose a research agenda to examine the extent to which vision can be meaningfully distinguished from goal.
Porta Linguarum 33, enero 2020 217-229
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Vision Theory vs. Goal-Setting Theory: A Critical
Analysis
aLi H. aL-Hoorie
aHmed aL SHLowiy
English Language and Preparatory Year Institute
Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu
Saudi Arabia
Received: 18 October 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2020
ISSN paper edition: 1697-7467, ISSN digital edition: 2695-8244
ABSTRACT: In recent years, vision has become a major theme in language motivation re-
search, capturing a core feature of modern theories of language motivation. However, empir-
ical investigations have mostly followed the prototypical design of administering self-report
questionnaires and examining correlations among a handful of variables. At the same time,
substantial overlap can be found between the current conceptualization of vision theory and
the long-standing tradition of goal-setting theory. After demonstrating this substantial over-
lap, and taking our cues from goal-setting theory, this paper highlights critical gaps in current
research into vision, including its sensory element, characteristics of effective vision, vision
evolution over time, vision multiplicity and potential inter-vision conict, vision mediators,
collective vision, and the role of emotions and self-satisfaction at the end. The ultimate aim
of this article is to propose a research agenda to examine the extent to which vision can be
meaningfully distinguished from goal.
Keywords: language motivation, second language acquisition, vision, goal.
Teoría de la visión versus teoría del establecimiento de objetivos: un análisis crítico.
RESUMEN: En los últimos años, la visión se ha convertido en un tema principal en
la investigación sobre la motivación del lenguaje, capturando una característica central
de las teorías modernas sobre motivación del lenguaje. Sin embargo, las investigaciones
empíricas han seguido principalmente el diseño prototípico de administrar cuestionarios
de autoevaluación y examinar las correlaciones entre un puñado de variables. Al mismo
tiempo, se puede encontrar una superposición sustancial entre la conceptualización actual
de la teoría de la visión y la larga tradición de la teoría del establecimiento de objetivos.
Después de demostrar esta superposición sustancial, y teniendo en cuenta nuestras indi-
caciones sobre la teoría del establecimiento de objetivos, este artículo destaca las brechas
críticas en la investigación actual sobre la visión, incluyendo su elemento sensorial, carac-
terísticas de visión efectiva, evolución de la visión a lo largo del tiempo, multiplicidad de
visiones y posible conicto entre ellas, mediadores visuales, visión colectiva y el papel de
las emociones y la autosatisfacción al nal. El propósito nal de este artículo es proponer
una agenda de investigación para examinar hasta qué punto la visión puede distinguirse
signicativamente del objetivo.
Palabras clave: motivación del lenguaje, adquisición de un segundo idioma, visión, ob-
jetivo
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1. Intro ductIon
In recent years, the second language (L2) motivation literature has witnessed the emer-
gence of what Muir and Dörnyei (2013, p. 362) call vision theory. This idea refers to the
proposal that imagery and vision of a desired, long-term goal could be a motivating factor
in language learning. Vision theory has provided the foundation of the L2 Motivational Self
System (Dörnyei, 2005, 2009). Although the L2 Motivational Self System draws from both
the socio-educational model (Gardner, 1985, 2010) and self-discrepancy theory (Higgins,
1987), it admittedly draws most heavily from possible selves theory (Markus & Nurius,
1986) as is evident in theory (focusing on vision and visualization), measurement (omitting
discrepancy), and general methodological approach (relying on questionnaires rather than
experimental manipulation of ideals and oughts). Just as Dörnyei, Henry, and Muir (2016)
put it, the L2 Motivational Self System “is centered on a key premise rooted in the under-
standing that the way in which people imagine themselves in the future plays an important
role in energizing their learning behavior in the present” (p. 53).
In addition to the above-mentioned theories, vision theory also draws from a fourth—
though less-acknowledged—tradition, namely goal-setting theory (cf. Dörnyei et al., 2016,
chap. 3; Locke & Latham, 1990, 2013c). In fact, Muir and Dörnyei (2013) describe goal-set-
ting theory as “[t]he most obvious connection” (p. 366) to vision theory. Goal-setting theory
has a long-standing tradition predating even the cognitive revolution itself (Locke, 1996;
Locke & Latham, 1990). Locke and Latham (2006) report that it had been developed over
a 25-year period from the results of around 400 laboratory and eld studies. Despite all of
this, goal-setting theory does not feature prominently in current vision theory literature or
the language motivation eld more generally. Closer comparison between these two theories
however reveals considerable overlap, to the extent that it is not clear what contribution
vision theory makes to knowledge of learner motivation over and above knowledge already
known from goal-setting theory. Considering the decades-long history of goal-setting theory,
it is important to examine how this new vision theory contributes to this literature in order
to avoid repackaging existing constructs into new terminology (Al-Hoorie, 2018). In this
article, we rst overview some examples of the overlap between these two theories. We
then highlight important gaps in vision theory literature that are yet to be addressed to a
satisfactory extent in L2 research.
2. Paral lel betwe en vIsIon theory and g oal-settI ng theory
As Muir and Dörnyei (2013) explain, albeit briey, there are a lot of themes in com-
mon between vision theory and goal-setting theory. These themes have not been explicitly
discussed in the eld to date, perhaps raising the perception that there is not much overlap
between the two theories. This is especially problematic considering the occasionally dif-
ferent terminology used, and the somewhat different foci of the two theories considering
their applied contexts and histories. In this section, therefore, we survey some examples of
similarities between the two theories.
According to Dörnyei (2009; see also Dörnyei & Kubanyiova, 2014; Hadeld & Dörnyei,
2013), the effect of the proposed vision-based approach requires the satisfaction of certain
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conditions—or moderators to use a more technical language. These moderators have received
considerable attention in the goals literature. In this section, we show some parallels and
ndings from the goals literature in mainstream psychology.
The rst condition is that the ideal vision needs to exist. That is, the learner should
formulate an ideal vision that s/he considers to be personally important. This idea can also
be found in the goals literature. For example, Austin and Vancouver (1996) discuss the
importance of “goal establishment”. They argue that the origin of a goal could be external
to the individual, internal, or a combination of the two. Austin and Vancouver (1996) then
review research showing that external goals can be internalized through different mechanisms,
most notably persuasion. Persuasion has been shown to facilitate both goal acceptance and
subsequent commitment. In fact, the name of goal-setting theory demonstrates the impor-
tance of this step.
Another condition is substantiating the vision. This idea refers to the need for the
learner to believe that the vision is plausible. Again, this notion is pervasive in the goals
literature. As Bandura (2013) explains, self-efcacy plays a major role in goals. Cognitively,
self-efcacy inuences whether the individual thinks in a self-enhancing or self-debilitating
way while they try to achieve their goals. Motivationally, self-efcacy has an effect on the
level of goal difculty that one selects, how much effort one then invests, and the degree of
persistence at the face of setbacks. Affectively, one’s beliefs in their coping ability inuence
their emotional life and vulnerability to depression and stress during the goal accomplishment
struggle. Decisionally, self-efcacy inuences what decisions are made and how well they
are, then, implemented.
Vision theory also emphasizes the motivational effect of visualization. In contrast to
vision—which concerns an ultimate end-state one strives to achieve, as explained above—
visualization is typically a technique of mentally practicing task performance without a
physical stimulus. Visualization has also been investigated in goal-setting theory for decades.
For example, Morin and Latham (2000) conducted an experiment where they trained super-
visors on mental practice to improve their communication skills and interaction with others.
Six months later, trained supervisors exhibited higher self-efcacy compared to those in the
control group. Self-efcacy, in turn, predicted both goal commitment and communication
skills. As Austin and Vancouver (1996; see also Bandura, 1986) argue, mental simulation
during planning can achieve comparable results to those obtained from behavioral practice.
A further condition is the development of an action plan. That is, the vision needs to
be operationalized so that the learner has a roadmap of what needs to be done. A very sim-
ilar notion is found in the goals literature. An important characteristic of effective goals is
specicity. Interestingly, some goals literature actually downplays the role of specic goals
on performance improvement, unless they are additionally coupled with an appropriate level
of difculty (see Locke & Latham, 1990). Without the difculty dimension, the primary
effect of goal specicity is to simply reduce variance among individuals since they are all
following the same roadmap.
Besides, the vision needs to be activated in order to keep it alive. Similar to the previous
factors, activation has also received substantial attention in the goals literature. Research-
ers have investigated factors such as salience, availability, and accessibility in memory. In
fact, as Austin and Vancouver (1996) argue, the “more common understanding of goals is
as dynamically conscious—shuttling in and out of working memory as required” (p. 345).
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Continuous awareness of the goal is not required. Once a goal is adopted, it remains in the
background of consciousness guiding and giving meaning to mental and physical actions
leading to a goal (Locke & Latham, 1990). Actually, “at any point in time, more nonconscious
goals are operating than conscious ones” (Austin & Vancouver, 1996, p. 346).
Another condition postulated in the vision tradition is considering failure. This is pro-
posed to counterbalance the vision. In goal-setting theory, a somewhat similar aspect has
been investigated, namely fear of failure (e.g., Latham & Locke, 2013). This tradition has
focused on the need to decrease fear of failure in order to counteract its debilitating effects.
A slightly different construct is that of balance between positive and negative expectations
in the same domain (Oyserman & Fryberg, 2006). However, evidence seems mixed in this
regard. For example, Knox (2006) suggests that feared possible selves are not salient for
males. Furthermore, hardly any evidence for an independent effect of this negative dimension
is currently available in the context of L2 learning.
This brief overview shows that there are a lot of shared themes between these two
theories. It also points out some interesting avenues for future research. The next section
focuses more explicitly on potential future research directions that could help delineate the
distinction between these two theories.
3. contr IbutIon o f vIsIon theory
3.1. Does the sensory element of vision make a unique contribution to language learning
motivation?
Although the term vision has a broad denition referring to a desired, long-term goal
as explained above, vision theory advocates a narrower dimension emphasizing the sensory
element of one’s vision. To quote Hadeld and Dörnyei,
When we use the word ‘vision’, we use it literally: possible selves are more than mere
long-term goals or future plans in that they involve tangible images and senses. If we have a
well-developed possible future self, we can imagine this self in vivid, realistic situations….
possible selves are a reality for the individual: people can ‘see’ and ‘hear a possible self.
(Hadeld & Dörnyei, 2013, p. 2, original emphasis)
Similarly, Dörnyei and Chan (2013) dene vision as “the sensory experience of a future
goal state or… a personalized goal that the learner has made his/her own by adding to it
the imagined reality of the goal experience” (pp. 454-455). Based on this view, Dörnyei
(2014) argues that there is a “qualitative difference” (p. 12) between goal and vision in that
the latter contains sensory elements and tangible images of the desired outcome and how to
achieve it, which is “unlike an abstract, cognitive goal” (p. 12).
Dörnyei and colleagues (e.g., Dörnyei, 2014; Dörnyei et al., 2016) additionally argue that
a key brainchild of vision theory is directed motivation currents (henceforth, DMC), or what
Ibrahim and Al-Hoorie (2019) call sustained ow. DMC is the unique ow-like motivational
surge one can experience for a prolonged period of time. Dörnyei, Muir, and Ibrahim (2014)
argue that vision is an integral component of the DMC experience, in that “the intensity of
a DMC cannot be achieved without adding this visionary quality to guiding goals” (p. 13).
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Considering the overlap between vision theory and goal-setting theory discussed in
the previous section, it is essential to closely examine the role of vision and its unique
contribution to the existing goals literature. Despite claims about the role of vision and its
sensory element in particular, hardly any quantitative analysis has been conducted to examine
the extent to which a sensory element contributes to learning motivation. Some qualitative
research conducted to date, however, do not seem to support this hypothesis. For example,
Ibrahim (2016b) found that his participants’ DMC was fueled not by their visions but by
the DMC experience itself. Vision was not a salient aspect for these learners, and was often
completely absent. In fact, some participants reported deliberately avoiding visualization
(see Ibrahim, 2016a). Similar ndings were obtained by Henry, Davydenko, and Dörnyei
(2015). In this study of female migrants and asylum seekers, the results also showed that
the participants, despite the DMC experience, had only vague future visions. The authors
conclude that “our analyses failed to reveal long-term goals that were explicitly dened.
Nor did the women give voice to idealised versions or describe specic visions of future
selves” (pp. 341–342). Instead, their motivation seemed to be sustained by classic factors
such as goal-setting, appraisal of ability, and feedback. A further study was conducted by
Murphy, Stubbings, and Uemura (2017). These researchers interviewed high-ability Japanese
learners of English about their DMC experiences. The participants did not report vision or
visualization of a future state to be a salient motivator for their DMC experience. In fact,
even after direct questioning, only three out of the nine participants reported engaging in
some form of visualization—and it was not reported as a key component.
The results of these studies suggest that, although a future vision might play some
role in triggering DMC, there is currently no reason to believe that it is an indispensable
component throughout the DMC experience. It is possible that DMC could instead be sus-
tained by, for example, the pleasure of the activity or the sense of progress felt during the
DMC experience. Considering the central role ascribed to the sensory element of vision,
hypothesized as a qualitative difference between goals and visions, it is important to ex-
amine whether and to what extent this sensory element contributes to the DMC experience
and to motivation more generally. It is equally important to quantify this effect in order to
facilitate comparison to the effect of conventional goals. Two interventions (Chan, 2014;
Magid, 2014) showed positive results but they lacked blinding and a control group. A third
intervention (Mackay, 2014) found no signicant differences between the treatment and the
control groups. Ideally, an intervention study should include a control group that receives a
conventional goal treatment (i.e., not involving a sensory element) in order to compare its
effect on a visualization intervention.
3.2. What are the characteristics of effective vision?
Whether or not the sensory element plays a role, it is important to nd out what char-
acteristics make a vision more effective in motivating language learning. It has been argued
that a special feature of vision is that it sheds light on goal importance and commitment.
Dörnyei and colleagues (2016) argue that goal-setting theory “only goes as far as to state
that high commitment is achieved if an individual is convinced that the goal is important,
without elaborating much on what it is that makes goals ‘important’” (Dörnyei et al., 2016,
p. 41). However, it would be fair to say that goal-setting theory has paid a decent amount of
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attention to what makes goals important and consequently enhances commitment. In fact, in
their 1990 book, Locke and Latham devote two chapters to this topic. They set off stating that,
The integrating principle behind the factors discussed in this section is that they
lead the individual to believe that trying for or attaining the goal is important and
do so without arousing conict between the goal in question and other goals, or
do so by eliminating such conict. (Locke & Latham, 1990, pp. 132-133, original
emphasis).
Locke and Latham (1990) then go on to review these commitment factors, including the
role of authority (e.g., the teacher in the context of language learning), peers, and whether
commitment is made publicly or privately. Locke and Latham (1990) also compare the ef-
fectiveness of self-set goals versus assigned goals (see pp. 167–169). Their review shows,
for example, that self-set goals are not always superior to assigned goals in either goal
commitment or performance improvement. Other characteristics inuencing the effectiveness
of goals include goal specicity, appropriate level of difculty, feedback availability, task
complexity, and situational constraints (Locke & Latham, 2006). An interesting concept in
this regard is goal intensity, which refers to “the effort needed to set a goal, the position
of a goal in an individual’s goal hierarchy, and the extent to which a person is committed
to goal attainment” (Locke & Latham, 2013a, p. 5).
Future research should investigate the extent to which the characteristics of an effective
vision are similar or different from those of an effective goal. For example, future research
could compare the motivational effect of self-set vision versus vision set by others such as
the teacher and peers. Another line of research could examine the effect of making one’s
vision public, whether it increases commitment, how vision is revised based on reactions
from others, and whether certain personality characteristics —including gender— plays a
moderating role. It would also be interesting to nd out whether it makes sense to speak
of ‘vision intensity’ (i.e., the effort it requires, its importance, and how committed one is
to realizing it).
3.3. Can the language learner have more than one vision? How does the learner handle
vision multiplicity effectively?
Discussion of the sensory element of vision and of its characteristics is consistent with
the general narrative in vision theory that assumes that the learner has a single vision. In
fact, one would be hard-pressed to nd the word vision in the plural form in relation to a
single learner. In goal-setting theory, researchers have explored situations where multiple
goals exist. As Locke and Latham (1990) review, goal interrelations have been conceptualized
in various ways including hierarchies, networks, branching paths or trees, graphs, lattices,
and vectors. In a similar vein, Sun and Frese (2013) discuss three types of goal typolo-
gies: independent goals (goals in different domains competing for one’s limited resources),
sequentially interdependent goals (achieving one goal leads to the other), and reciprocally
interdependent goals (goals synergetically supporting each other). This dimension is some-
times called connectedness-complexity of goals (Austin & Vancouver, 1996).
Ali H. Al-Hoorie And AHmed Al SHlowiy Vision Theory vs. Goal-Setting...
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In the language learning domains, it is not hard to imagine a learner possessing more
than one vision. For example, a learner might hope to be a uent speaker of the target lan-
guage, and also a professional translator of legal documents. These two visions fall under
the overall umbrella of linguistic prociency but have different linguistic emphases and
training requirements. A second learner, on the other hand, might have a linguistic vision and
a cultural vision. The cultural vision could represent an interest in the cultural products of
the target community such as their music, TV shows, and celebrities (Gardner, 1985, 2010).
Because of the resulting reciproal effects, this learner may have an additional advantage in
that leisure time activities become further learning opportunities. In contrast, a third learner
might have conicting visions. One vision might relate to academic achievement while the
other to belonging to a certain social group, sometimes resulting in what have been called
the norm of mediocrity (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011).
Locke and Latham (2013b) describe vision as “a form of superordinate goal” (p. 629).
According to the goals literature, one particular advantage of possessing such a long-term
vision is that it reduces goal conict (for a review, see Sun & Frese, 2013). That is, a su-
perordinate goal can combine supporting subgoals performed daily, give an overall meaning
to them, and facilitate synergy among them. Freitas, Clark, Kim, and Levy (2009) illustrate
this notion by giving the example of the goal of “being excellent at work” and the goal of
“eating healthy food”. Although these two goals might at rst seem too disparate, they can be
sensibly combined under the higher-level goal of being “a successful, self-disciplined person”.
Little language learning motivation research has explored the (possibly common)
scenario of vision multiplicity. Lack of motivation may not only be because of a lack of
vision, but also due to the presence of other visions competing for attention and energy. To
better understand these processes, future research should examine how learners manage this
multiplicity and how vision conict could be resolved effectively.
3.4. How does vision evolve over time?
Whether the learner has one or multiple visions, it is also insightful to understand how
they evolve over time. Goal-setting researchers have examined the developmental stages of
goals. Austin and Vancouver (1996) describe four stages: establishing, planning, striving,
and revising. That is, individuals rst decide on what goals to pursue, make plans on how
to go about doing that, exert effort trying to achieve these goals, and nally reect on
their experience and its outcomes. Other models propose three similar phases: forethought,
performance, and self-reection (Bandura, 1986; Zimmerman & Campillo, 2003). These
models show how goal pursuit unfolds over time. Some researchers have also questioned
the linearity of this process, arguing for the possibility of nonlinear and parallel processes
(Austin & Vancouver, 1996; Simon, 1994).
Some language researchers have already explored the possibility of viewing motivation as
a complex dynamic process (Dörnyei, MacIntyre, & Henry, 2015; Hiver & Al-Hoorie, 2016).
However, there seems to be less interest in how vision itself changes over time. Currently,
it is not clear how visions form in the rst place, and what role parents, peers, and teachers
play in shaping vision. Other factors could also contribute to vision change, including the
source of the vision, its attainability, and the level of satisfaction from it. Investigations of
change could be at different time-scales, ranging from micro to macro. Micro time-scales can
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shed light on change within seconds and minutes and typically requires specialized software
to capture variations accurately (e.g., the idiodynamic approach, MacIntyre, 2012) while
macro investigations can extend years and even decades, which makes them less popular
(Sugita McEown, Noels, & Chaffee, 2014). Investigating vision at these varying time-scales
would enrich our understanding of learning motivation.
3.5. What are the mediators of vision? Through what mechanisms does vision exert
their inuence?
As surveyed in the rst part of this article, some attention has been directed toward
moderators, or what Dörnyei (2009) calls conditions of visions. However, less attention has
been paid to mediators of visions. While moderators inuence the effectiveness of vision,
mediators explain the mechanisms of how vision exerts its effect. The goal-setting literature
has a number of mechanisms including directive function (directing attention and effort to-
ward goal-relevant activities and away from goal-irrelevant activities), energizing function
(expending more effort, especially with difcult goals), persistence, and indirectly through
arousal, discovery and use of relevant strategies and knowledge (Locke & Latham, 2002).
More recently, goal researchers have examined additional mechanisms such as attributions,
emotions, goal self-setting, and self-efcacy (Eberly, Liu, Mitchell, & Lee, 2013; Heslin &
Caprar, 2013).
A potential mechanism through which vision exerts its effect is unconscious processes.
Within goal-setting theory, some research has investigated this possibility. For example, Stajk-
ovic, Locke, and Blair (2006) compared “assigned conscious goals” and “primed unconscious
goals” and found that each made a contribution to improving performance. Interestingly, the
researchers also found an interaction between the two, in that congruence between conscious
and unconscious goals further improved performance to achieve conscious goals. Similarly,
research by Shantz and Latham (2009, 2011) has shown that priming goals both in lab and
eld experiments can have a positive impact on motivated behavior. Shantz and Latham (2011)
meta-analyzed the results from their research and found a moderate effect size of d = 0.56.
In their discussion of DMCs in language learning, Dörnyei et al. (2016) describe uncon-
scious self-regulation as “admittedly an oxymoron” (p. 85). Language learning is a long-term
enterprise with many intermediary steps. It would not be too surprising that unconscious
processes play a role (Al-Hoorie, 2016a; Al-Hoorie, 2016b). A better understanding of the
steps involved in actualizing vision, how learners struggle while doing so, what strategies
and techniques are utilized by different learners during vision striving are important questions
for future research. Little attention has been directed toward the process by which vision
can have its effect and whether it is distinct from that of conventional goals.
3.6. Does collective vision exist? Is it possible to foster it?
Apart from what makes vision effective or how, most discussion of vision has assumed
that it is held by an individual learner. Little attention has been paid to the possibility that
a group of learners might share a collective vision and its dynamics. In goal-setting theory,
group goals have been shown to be distinct personal goals. For example, group performance
improves when personal goals are in line with group goals, but deteriorates when they are
Ali H. Al-Hoorie And AHmed Al SHlowiy Vision Theory vs. Goal-Setting...
225
in conict (Seijts & Latham, 2000). Another difference is that personal goals are mediated
by task strategy and individual effort, whereas group goals are mediated by team-related
effort only (DeShon, Kozlowski, Schmidt, Milner, & Wiechmann, 2004).
When it comes to language learning, Ibrahim and Al-Hoorie (2019) examined collective
DMCs, or what they call shared, sustained ow. They found that class projects can help
foster the collective DMC experience. At the same time, their results also point to certain
facilitative conditions including forming a group identity, attaching personal value, and
providing partial autonomy. Research into collective vision is still at its infancy. It would
be informative to investigate the visions held by learners in one class, how comparable they
are, and to what extent such comparability contributes to motivation, effort, and eventual
language learning achievement success.
3.7. How does vision relate to emotions and self-satisfaction?
Locke and Latham (2006) argue that goals are closely related to affect in that “goals
set the primary standard for self-satisfaction with performance” (p. 265). In fact, Locke
and Latham (1990, p. 234) report a strong weighted mean correlation (r = .51) between
goal success and satisfaction. During the activity, also, goal setting is closely related to
moment-to-moment affective states in that appropriate goals can increase interest and reduce
boredom. Plemmons and Weiss (2013) go as far as to claim that it is “virtually impossible
to discuss goal processes without reference to affect, just as it is impossible to discuss affect
processes without reference to goals” (p. 117).
Within language learning motivation, there has been some interest in emotions lately
(see Al-Hoorie, 2017). As vision is posited to represent the ultimate desire of the individual,
or what the learner would like to become in the long run (Dörnyei, 2014), it would seem
commonsense to argue that vision is rmly tied to emotions. When it comes to the DMC
experience, it “offers an exciting and fully satisfying experience against which the emotional
state of everyday life does not always compare” (Dörnyei et al., 2014, p. 99).
However, little research has investigated the interconnections between emotion and
vision outside the admittedly extraordinary experience of DMC. It is likely that emotion
plays a role in inuencing vision selection, revision, and perception of performance out-
comes. Different emotions (e.g., anxiety, sadness, anger) might also have different effects
on these vision processes.
4. concludIng remar ks
Just as Muir and Dörnyei (2013) put it, vision theory is “only one part of a wider
narrative” (p. 362). It is therefore essential not to lose sight of the overall picture but care-
fully examine the unique contribution of vision theory to this wider narrative. This type of
examination might, in turn, suggest avenues for expanding current vision theory, including
aspects that are taken for granted. For example, while current vision theory emphasizes
discrepancy reduction, other theories additionally emphasize discrepancy creation (Locke &
Latham, 2006) and discrepancy production (Bandura, 1997). Indeed, “negative discrepancy
tells only half the story and not necessarily the more interesting half” (Bandura, 1997, p. 131).
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The above discussion has also shown that an important tool to investigate vision is
intentional intervention. Most research to date has relied on questionnaire-based observational
designs and qualitative methods (Al-Hoorie, 2018; Lamb, 2017), leading Ushioda (2016)
to describe such approaches as “rather dull” (p. 565). This status quo may be attributed to
historical reasons, but for vision research to gain credibility, grappling with experimentation
seems inevitable (Hiver & Al-Hoorie, 2020).
A running theme of this paper is the need to pinpoint what unique contribution vision
theory can make to effective language over and above what is already known from the goals
literature. The ability to visualize desired outcomes to improve motivation and performance
has been around for decades (e.g., Clark, 1960). Back in the 1980s, Bandura argued that vis-
ualization exerts its effect through classical factors already known to psychologists back then,
Having people visualize themselves executing activities skillfully raises their
perceived self-efcacy that they will be able to perform better… Such boosts of
self-efcacy are likely to improve performance by reducing impeding self-doubts
and by enlisting the effort needed to do well. (Bandura, 1986, p. 62).
If this is the case, theorists should consider why vision should be considered qualita-
tively different from goals. Future research on this issue would hopefully shed more light
on the apparently considerable overlap between these two theories.
5. ackn owledgme nts
We would like to thank Beatriz González-Fernández for her assistance in translating
the abstract into Spanish.
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