Ph.D. (Indiana), B.A. (Hons.) (NUS)
Goals are desirable end states people want to maintain (e.g., a thin figure) or achieve (e.g., First Class Honors). I'm broadly interested in the antecedents and consequences of these goals that govern people's behaviors. I take two broad perspectives when studying goal pursuit. 1) Goal pursuit happens within the context of multiple other goals. Hence, pursuing a particular goal (e.g., academic achievement) means the abandonment of conflicting goals (e.g., socializing via Facebook). My research from this perspective answers questions like "How do people juggle various important goals in life?" "How do people choose to engage or disengage from a particular goal pursuit?" 2) Goal pursuit is the result of conscious processes interacting with unconscious ones. When a dieter rejects a mouth-watering chocolate cheesecake, the conscious thought "Geez, I'm on diet" is not the only thing going on in his/her mind. Multiple unconscious processes also fuel goal pursuit behaviors. I'm especially interested in the operation of various unconscious goal-defense mechanisms, which help people steer away from temptations without their conscious awareness. Because goal pursuit processes are behind many different human behaviors, I have been able to apply my work to such diverse areas as academic achievement, dietary restraint, task performance, creativity, and interracial conflict.
When I'm not doing research, I like to read on arts and find ironies in life. I also like to play a variety of card and board games. My non-psychology friends always claim that I have an unfair advantage because I can "read" their minds. Well, like many other psychology researchers, I simply pretend that it is true and play on.