Social Achievement Goals and Social Adjustment in Adolescence: A Multiple-Goal Perspective

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Adolescents approach social situations with different social achievement goals (i.e., social development goals, demonstration-approach goals, and demonstration-avoid goals). Applying a latent profile analysis (LPA), a person-centered approach, this study identified four groups of adolescents with distinct social goal profiles: approach-oriented, undifferentiated high, demonstration-oriented, and undifferentiated low. Observed differences in various indicators of social adjustment, including social anxiety, friendship quality, prosocial behavior as well as aggressive behavior, indicated that the approach-oriented and undifferentiated high profiles showed most adaptive outcomes, whereas the demonstration-oriented and undifferentiated low profiles showed maladaptive patterns of social outcomes. Profiles with high levels of social development goals showed the most adaptive social outcomes regardless of the level of demonstration-oriented goals (i.e., demonstration-approach and demonstration-avoid goals). These findings suggest that focusing on high-quality relationships and developing social competence leads to adequately contending with social challenges, and it provides protection against the negative effects of demonstration-oriented social goals.

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