January 1, 2007

Spiritual Strivings, Goal Satisfaction, Virtue, and Well-Being

Does goal satisfaction increase goal achievement? Sarah Schnitker examines personality dynamics.

Thrive Research Team

  • Sarah Schnitker, Project Leader
  • Amber Blews, Student Researcher
  • Jessica Foss, Student Researcher
  • Ryan Thomas, Student Researcher

Funded By

This project was made possible through the support of a generous seed grant by Travis Research Institute.

Project Overview

Does goal satisfaction increase goal achievement? What factors increase the relation between goal sanctification and goal achievement?


Part 1: The Effects of Goal Sanctification on Goal Achievement

This first study examined the dynamics of goal pursuit across time as well as the wellbeing effects of goal content in diverse contexts. A major focus of this project was utilizing cutting-edge statistical methodologies (e.g., Multi-level SEM) to examine personality dynamics. Two hypotheses were tested in this study:

  1. The first hypothesis was that goal sanctification will increase goal achievement.
  2. The second was that potential mediators (e.g. meaning, effort, and patience) will increase the relation between goal sanctification and goal achievement.

The original data was collected via online surveys five times during a ten-week academic quarter. Participants were given course credit for completing surveys. Participants include 259 UC Davis undergraduates comprised of 179 females, 58 males, and 11 gender unknown subjects. Other socio-economic and ethnicity data were not collected. The original study assumed subject pool to match UC Davis’s general student demographic of approximately 40-45% Asian American, 40-45% Caucasian, 8-12% Hispanic, and 2-12% Other Minority. The following publication has been submitted regarding the findings from this study:

  • Thomas, R. M., & Schnitker, S. A. (2017). Modeling the effects of within-person characteristic and goal-level attributes on personal project pursuit over time. Journal of Research in Personality, 69, 206-217. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2016.06.012
  • Schnitker, S. A. (2012). An examination of patience and wellbeing. Journal of Positive Psychology, 7, 263-280. doi:10.1080/17439760.2012.697185


Part 2: Spiritual Strivings, Patience, and Wellbeing in a Religious Adolescent Sample

This second study sought to explore the relationship between character virtues, sanctification of personal strivings, and wellbeing in a religious sample of adolescents. To further illuminate the relation between these variables, three hypotheses were examined:

  1. First, sanctification of personal strivings was hypothesized to be associated with increased patience and wellbeing.
  2. Second, this association was proposed to be moderated by religiosity such that individuals with high sanctification and high religiosity will exhibit the greatest patience.
  3. Finally, spirituality was explored as a potential moderator for the relationship between sanctified strivings and patience.

Data was collected using an adolescent sample from a Christian youth organization called Young Life. Participants were recruited by Young Life leaders and given the option to participate in the study upon registering for a Young Life Trip to Bulgaria. They were then asked to complete the first set of questionnaires (T1). Participants completed follow-up questionnaires immediately following the trip (T2) and 9-18 months after the trip (T3). Data were gathered from participants over two years (2007-2008) from a variety of regions including the USA, England, Germany, France, Portugal, Belgium, and Norway. Responses were obtained from 140 participants, 14-19 years of age, in grades 8-12. Of the 140 participants, 62 were male, 75 were female, and 3 did not specify their gender. Participants were predominately Caucasian (83.6%) with approximately 2% Hispanic, 2% African/African American, 1% Asian/Asian American, and 4% Other represented. The results from this study may be found in the following publication:

  • Schnitker, S. A., Blews, A. E., & Foss, J. A. (2014). Patience and self-renewal. In E. A. Maynard and R. J. Wicks (Eds.), Clinician’s Guide to Self-Renewal: Essential Advice from the Field (pp. 205-227). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Available at www.wiley.com
  • Schnitker, S. A., & Emmons, R. A. (2013). Spiritual striving and seeking the sacred: Religion as meaningful goal-directed behavior. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 23, 315-324. doi:10.1080/10508619.2013.795822
  • Emmons, R. A., Barrett, J. L., & Schnitker, S. A. (2008). Personality and the capacity for religious and spiritual experience. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of Personality (3rd Ed, pp.634-653). New York: The Guilford Press. Available at www.guilford.com


    You Got It!