In Chapter 5 we developed the idea that, at the schematic model level of representation within SPAARS, individuals possess a variety of models of the world, self, and others which form the basis of their "reality". For most of us there is a sense that the world is a reasonably safe place, that we have more or less control over what goes on in our world, that the actions of other people are pretty much predictable, that bad things don't usually happen to us, and so on (Dalgleish, 2004a). These models act as organising and guiding principles throughout our daily lives and are fundamental to the goals we set for ourselves and the ways in which we try to fulfil them. The maintenance of schematic models also represents the highest level on the goal hierarchy. For example, the "goal" of maintaining a sense of self or a sense of reality.
Within this kind of analysis, schematic models develop as a function of the individual's learning history. This learning history, in turn, is essentially a history of the success at achieving goals and the various obstacles to those goals that the individual has encountered. A learning history in which the individual has been reasonably successful in fulfilling goals or has been able to negotiate the obstacles to those goals is likely to lead to a set of schematic models about the self, world, and others which is generally positive. We are not suggesting that this is a one-way relationship; as we have stated above, the goals individuals set either implicitly or explicitly are a function of the schematic models that individuals bring to bear on their circumstances. An individual is only likely to set goals that are viewed as more or less attainable within the parameters of the schematic models that are being applied. Such goals are consequently more likely to be attained and the positive nature of the schematic models is thereby strengthened. What we have, then, is a proposed interactive system involving schematic models of the self, world, and others, and the achievement and setting of goals at different levels and in different domains of the individual's life, such that the system as a whole functions in a generally positive way.
An interactive system of this kind would have several implications: (1) that the schematic models of normal healthy individuals are generally positive and self-serving; (2) that, consequently, such individuals will show processing biases on a number of cognitive and social cognitive tasks (Isen, 1999) and a number of such positive biases are discussed in the section on depressive realism in Chapter 7 and also below; (3) the current state of the interactive goal-model system is reflected in trait constructs such as optimism/pessimism (see Lyubomirsky et al., 2005).
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Meeting Realistic Goals Can Be Easy if You Have the Right Understanding of the Process. The Reason So Many People Fail at Meeting Their Goals is Because They Have a Confused Understanding of Realistic Goal Setting and Self-Motivation Methodology.