A backup plan for life? Alternative Life paths facilitate disengagement in an action crisis

Christopher Mlynski, Swantje Mueller, Christopher M. Napolitano, Veronika Job

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While there is anecdotal evidence and some scientific support for the value of having multiple paths to reach one’s life goals, recent work concerning backup plans argues that their mere availability undermines commitment to and performance in the originally chosen path. In this paper, we evaluated this phenomenon amongst college students (N = 345) entering their first term with an already available family-based alternative life path. As expected, entering into college with an available family-based alternative life path led to a decrease in study commitment over the first semester and indirectly predicted lower end-of-semester grades through this reduction in commitment. However, results indicate that this only occurred when students reported experiencing an action crisis at the end of their first semester. If students did not report having an action crisis, an available family-based alternative life path did not influence study commitment and predicted a higher end-of-semester GPA. Ultimately, findings highlight the major role action crisis plays in the influence an alternative life path has on path trajectory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - Dec 20 2023

Keywords

  • Action crisis
  • Backup plans
  • School performance
  • Study commitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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