Writing Down Goals: Does It Actually Improve Performance?

in The Sport Psychologist
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The purpose of the current investigation was to determine the effectiveness of writing down goals, as well as displaying them, on performance. Sixty-two college student participants were randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: no goals, unwritten goals, written goals, or written and displayed goals. Participants performed a free-throw-shooting task, dribbling around cones, and layups for 2 min (Mikan drill) in a pretest–posttest design with posttesting occurring 3–4 wk after the initial testing. A 4 × 2 (goal conditions by trials) repeated-measures MANOVA with the 3 performance measures as dependent variables was conducted. There were no significant group main effects or interactions. Results also revealed no differences among the groups in commitment, motivation, and perceived difficulty of their goals. However, significant correlations indicated that the more participants looked at their goal, the more likely they were to practice their skills (although this did not lead to enhanced performance). These results call into question the efficacy of writing down goals, although future studies need to verify this with different tasks and different levels of goal difficulty.

The authors are with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Health, Miami University, Oxford, OH.

Weinberg (weinber@miamioh.edu) is corresponding author.
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