This paper attempts to sort out and integrate the research results of aspirations in different disciplines, and to answer the questions of what aspirations are, how aspirations form, and how aspirations should be measured.
Firstly, based on a review of the definitions of aspirations in psychology, anthropology and economics, the concept of aspirations is defined as decision-makers’ ability to achieve the possible goals in the future, and to identify the chosen behavior which can motivate and guide to the goals. This ability varies with the experiences of decision-makers and the external environment. At the same time, aspirations are also relatively stable.
Secondly, based on the previous research, the concept of aspirations we define and the induction of the characteristics of aspirations, this paper analyzes the mechanism of aspiration formation from social comparison, aspiration adaptation, self-efficacy and the locus of control. Based on these four factors, we form the interdisciplinary integration framework of the formation mechanism of aspirations. The formation mechanism of aspirations is closely related to the characteristic of aspirations.
Thirdly, combing the concept, characteristics and formation mechanism of aspirations, current methods of aspiration measurements are reviewed. The framework effect and anchoring effect theories in psychology are used to systematically analyze the aspiration measurement method from Bernard & Taffesse （2014）, and to demonstrate its rationality and operability as the instrument of aspiration measurement.
Finally, this paper expounds the application value of aspirations in the field of management and other disciplines （such as poverty and development issues, residents’ subjective well-being）, and makes an original discussion about future research issues. As a multi-dimensional concept, the formation mechanism of aspirations in different dimensions may be different, and the current research has not revealed the biological and neuroscience foundations of aspiration formation. Although aspirations play an important role in motivating and guiding individual behaviors, it is not necessarily the higher the better, and there should be a moderate boundary for aspirations.