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 (a)  Describe this goal/life task in some detail and indicate where you might have come up with such a goal/life task.


            John Barton’s goal is to be a successful lawyer.  He has already completed his law studies by graduating law school.  Right now he is currently studying for the bar exams.  He seeks to be a bar topnotcher just like his grandfather. Ever since John was a young boy, he already wanted to be a lawyer.  This may be attributed to the fact that his grandfather and father are both attorneys.  From then on, he has conditioned himself to be an attorney.  This was done by studying his father and grand father by observing the, or even visiting them in the office.  He also started reading fiction books that are law related such as books written by Scott Turrow and John Grisham.  He also watched a lot of movies and TV series that are law related.  His wanting to be a lawyer was further reinforced through the years through his talks with friends and through questions relating to his future asked from him to which he consistently answered “I want to be a lawyer”.  His father and grand father also played a great hand in his desire to become a lawyer.  They conditioned him by consistently reminding him and praising him that he has go what it takes to be a lawyer. 

(b)  Then illustrate what past theory and research have to say about how your goal or life task is likely to influence your current behavior and personality. Choose at least two major research approaches for this part and link their findings to your own particular case.

1) Pervin’s Theory of Goal-Directed Behavior

            Pervin’s theory of goal-directed behavior provides that one must have a goal in order to lead an organized life or at least to have a patterned quality to one’s behavior.  Under his theory, personality problems stem from not having goals, having conflicts among goals, and experiencing difficulties in implementing goals.

            Another important aspect of Pervin’s theory is the stages of goal making.  The first stage is the activation.  According to him, goals can be activated through external or internal stimuli.  The next stage is engaging in maintenance strategies.  This is where one asses the progress, notes whether and when one has accomplished sub-goals, and gives one’s self self-reinforcement.   The final stage is the termination of the goal.  This occurs when one has attained the goal or has reached a satisfactory level, which would lead one to cease efforts.  Termination of goals may also occur when one recognizes the impossibility of its completion.  In other words, it is terminated when one gives up.  Lastly, it can also occur when one abandons a goal in order to start a new goal.

            John has been goal oriented since he was a young child.  Ever since then, he has always had a sense of direction, a sense of purpose.  The only time his goal was frustrated was when he was kicked out of grade school for beating up his classmate.  This forced him to transfer to a school, which was not as good as his former school.  It caused anxiety because he wanted to get into a good high school so he could get into a good college, which would ultimately get him in a good law school.  This however was rectified when he was still able to get into a good high school and then ultimately the law school of his choice.

Unlike his friends John did not get into the habit of using drugs.  This could be attributed to the fact that he has a sense of purpose especially because he has accomplished most of the sub goals of being a lawyer (graduating law school was the last sub goal accomplished) with only one left to accomplish, which is passing the bar.  His friends on the other hand, have no goals and as a result of that, they resorted to drugs to as a coping mechanism against their feelings of emptiness.

2) Bandura’s Self Regulation Theory

            According to Bandura, self-regulation is composed of 3 main facets.  The first of which is self-observation.  This refers to one’s ability to monitor one’s performance.  The second facet to self-regulation is the judgmental process. This is where one evaluates one’s performance based on the goals that one has set for one’s self.  The last facet of self- regulation theory is self-reaction.  This refers to the fact that we respond positively or negatively to our behavior depending on how well it measures up to our personal goals and standards. This means that we create incentives for our own actions through the self-reinforcement or self-punishment we give to ourselves. When one, meets the standard, behavior is regulated by self-produced rewards such as pride and satisfaction.  Of one fails, the behavior is followed by self-criticism or self-dissatisfaction.

            John feels proud for having reached where he is today.  He has always wanted to become a lawyer and is really close to achieving this life long goal. As mentioned previously, John can be described as a goal oriented person. So far he is very pleased with his progress.  He always saw all facets of his life as steppingstones to his success, which is ultimately to be a lawyer.  He has accomplished all sub goals and is left with one last task to complete to achieve this goal.  Currently, he is reviewing for the bar which he will be yaking soon in order for him to be a lawyer.

c) Finally, speculate about how the various approaches to personality therapy might help you in accomplishing your goal/life task. Choose two major therapy approaches and speculate about how those approaches might aid you in moving more successfully toward your goal or accomplishing your life task. What would you need to do, according to these approaches, in order to be successful in your personal strivings?

1) Bandura’s Social Learning

Systematic desensitization one therapry that is consistent with Bandura’s approach.  It is composed of four steps namely 1) learning an adaptive response.  This involves finding a response that would counter the fear response; 2) arrange anxiety-producing stimuli into a hierarchy. An example of this is drawing of a snake, to plastic snake to actual snake; and 3) systematically expose oneself to stimuli while performing an adaptive response.

            The logic behind this is to make the person get over the fear by learning a response to counter the fear and by systematically introducing the anxiety-producing stimulus through the hierarchy created.

            The purpose of this therapy is reduction of anxiety through relaxation and counter conditioning.  This would be helpful in case John gets a panic attack due to his fear of failing the exam.  It would be helpful for John to learn a counter adaptive response against the fear-induced response, which is the panic attack.  This would be very useful especially when and if he gets such an attack at the day of the exam or at a time immediately preceding the date of the exam.  The use of this therapy will help John learn these countermeasures and would ultimately make it easier for him to take the bar exams.

2) Beck’s Cognitive Therapy

            Beck’s therapy involves four steps.  These are the following:  1) identifying automatic negative thoughts; 2) Substituting more accurate and realistic interpretations.  This involves encouraging more rational and realistic thinking by correcting faulty information processing and eliminating the systematic biases that result from such thinking; 3) doing “homework” assignments.  This involves examining the negative thoughts and examining the evidences for and against them; and 4) de-catastrophizing. This involves expecting the worse case scenario.    In sum, the client is given directions, guidance, advice, homework, and so on.

         This therapy could be helpful in removing John’s fear of failing the bar examinations.  He should examine his negative thoughts and learn how to cope with these irrational thoughts.  It would also be good for him to expect the worse to lessen the pressure and anxiety, which would be very helpful for him to be able to take the exams with a clear and doubtless mind.


Allen, J. (2004). An Overview of Beck’s Cognitive Theory of Depression in Contemporary Literature.  Retrieved from: http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/allen.html

Bandura, A. (1975).  Social Learning and Personality Development.  New Jersey: Holt, Rinehart, Winston.

Pervin, L. (1990). Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research.  Retrieved from: http://books.google.com/books?id=2s_c4uMgM-YC;dq=Pervin%E2%80%99s+Theory+of+Goal-Directed+Behavior;pg=PA462;ots=q7td7IGXaO;sig=BddLtkfu76Uc85aqZZ8C-SxMTk0;prev=http://www.google.com/search%3Fsourceid%3Dnavclient%26ie%3DUTF-8%26rlz%3D1T4TSHA_en___PH242%26q%3DPervin%25E2%2580%2599s%2BTheory%2Bof%2BGoal-Directed%2BBehavior;sa=X;oi=print;ct=result;cd=1

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