Effect of Goal Difficulty and Positive Reinforcement on Endurance Performance

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of North Texas
  • 2 University of Delaware
  • 3 Washington State University
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The present investigation tested the interactive effects of goal difficulty and positive reinforcement in the form of verbal persuasion on endurance performance. Two experiments were conducted in laboratory and field settings. In Experiment 1, subjects (n=87) were assigned to a realistic or an unrealistic goal condition and either received or did not receive positive reinforcement while performing the 3-minute sit-up test over the course of 5 weeks. In addition, two control conditions were utilized including a do-your-best group and a no-treatment control group. Results indicated no significant main or interaction effects for the goal setting or positive reinforcement conditions. In Experiment 2, subjects (n=120) squeezed a hand dynamometer for as long as they could. Experimental conditions were similar to those in Experiment 1 except that the verbal persuasion was individualized since it was group oriented in the first experiment. Results again indicated no significant between-subjects main effects or interactions. Questionnaires revealed that subjects accepted their assigned goals, tried extremely hard, were committed to achieving their goals, and felt their goals were important. Results are discussed in terms of the goal attainability notion (Garland, 1983) and self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977). Future directions for research are offered.

Robert Weinberg and Allen Jackson are with the Dept of Kinesiology at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203. Lawrence Bruya is with the Dept. of PESLS at Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164. Howard Garland is with the Dept. of Business Administration at the University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19711.

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