Influencing Mindset: A Social Cognitive Science Approach to Goal Attainment

What drives or inhibits goal attainment? A real coaching experience!

In a real coaching experience, I realized “Attention” is the key.

According to psychologist and philosopher William James, attention “is the taking possession of the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what may seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thoughts…It implies withdrawal from some things to deal effectively with others.”

Attention is influenced by two processes driving our perception to induce our “Influencing Mindset.”

The two processes are Top-down/ Expectation-driven Attention and Bottom-up/ Stimulus-driven Attention.


Factors are arising from our knowledge and expectations are shaping our processing of the stimulus input.


Effects governed by stimulus itself that shapes the processing of the input.


Coaching Application:

  1. Two factors that an individual normally processes to shape his perception are the “Situation” and the “Related Effort
  2. Ask questions to assess how the individual perceives the situation: Active or Less Active.
  3. Ask questions to see if this perception is driven by Top-down or Bottom-up.
  4. Ask questions to ascertain individual exertion of effort: Passive Low or Passive High. Remember passive low is favorable, and passive high passive is less favorable.
  5. Ask questions to see if this perception is driven by Top-down or Bottom-up.
  6. To enable insight for the coached shape Stimulus and Knowledge and Expectation influencing both Top-down and Bottom-up.
  7. Use of the following graph and chart as aid.





One can fall into any quadrant, and the goal is of course to work on moving from each quadrant. The coach needs to be skillful in his craft to do this.

This situation is applicable to organizations as well.