A growing body of evidence suggests that people with bipolar disorder
are highly goal-oriented. Compared to other persons, they expend more
effort to attain rewards and view goal pursuit as more important to
their self-worth. Persons at risk for mania and those diagnosed with
bipolar spectrum disorders have been shown to endorse highly ambitious
life goals, such as becoming a multimillionaire or achieving fame, A study published in Journal of Abnormal Psychology is the first examination of whether such elevated goals
characterize persons diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. The study also examined
whether elevated ambitions predicted symptom change over time.
Ninety-two persons with bipolar I disorder and 81 age- and sex-matched
controls completed the Willingly Approached Set of Statistically
Unlikely Pursuits, a measure of extremely high life ambitions. A subset
of the bipolar participants completed a 3-month follow-up interview.
Participants with bipolar disorder endorsed higher ambitions for popular
fame than did controls; moreover, heightened ambitions for popular fame
and financial success predicted increases in manic symptoms in those
with bipolar disorder over the next three months. Discussion focused on
goal regulation in bipolar disorder.