Overcoming emotional and attentional obstacles: A dynamic multi-level model of goal maintenance for job seekers

Robert C. Melloy, Songqi Liu, Alicia A. Grandey, Junqi Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Finding a new job requires individuals to be unruffled and focused despite obstacles, self-control dilemmas between avoiding short-term costs and achieving long-term gains. We propose that distinguishing two types of obstacles helps to understand when job search goal are more likely to be maintained. We propose that emotional obstacles are internal states that redirect energy away from the goal, whereas attentional obstacles are external events and tasks that distract focus from the goal, and emotional skills and situational norms, respectively, determine if the job seeker can resolve the self-control dilemma and overcome these obstacles. An initial study supported the differentiation of emotional (i.e., frustration, fatigue) and attentional (i.e., schoolwork, social events) obstacles among student job seekers, and in another sample of graduating job seekers these two obstacles differentially affected their job search intensity over two weeks. Specifically, emotional obstacles either reduced or increased the hours spent on the job search depending on whether job seekers could effectively regulate their emotions. Attentional obstacles either increased or reduced subsequent hours spent on the job search, depending on awareness of peers’ job seeking activities. We build on these findings to make suggestions for future job search motivation research and training interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-107
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Overcoming emotional and attentional obstacles: A dynamic multi-level model of goal maintenance for job seekers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this