Comparison of Participatively Set and Assigned Goals in the Reduction of Alcohol Use

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The effects of setting goals on goal commitment, self-efficacy for goal achievement, and goal achievement in the context of an alcohol use intervention were examined using an experimental design in which participants were randomized to participatively set goals, assigned goals, and no goal conditions. One hundred and twenty-six heavy-drinking college students received a single cognitive-behavioral assessment/intervention session and completed measures of goal commitment, self-efficacy for goal achievement, and alcohol use. Results were consistent with, and expanded upon, previous research by demonstrating that having a goal for limiting alcohol consumption was predictive of lower quantity and frequency of alcohol use relative to not having a goal. Participation in goal setting yielded greater goal commitment and self-efficacy for goal achievement than assigned goals, but did not result in significantly greater reductions in alcohol use relative to assigned goals. Goal commitment and self-efficacy explained unique variance in the prediction of alcohol use at follow-up. Findings support the importance of goal setting in alcohol interventions and suggest areas for further research.

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