The Relationship between Goal Proximity and Specificity in Bowling: A Field Experiment

in The Sport Psychologist

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Steven H. FriermanUniversity of North Carolina, Greensboro

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Robert S. WeinbergUniversity of North Texas

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Allen JacksonUniversity of North Texas

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The purpose of this investigation was twofold: to determine if individuals who were assigned specific, difficult goals perform better than those assigned “do your best” goals, and to examine the importance of goal proximity (longterm vs. short-term) on bowling performance. Subjects were 72 students enrolled in two beginning bowling courses at a 4-year university. They were matched according to baseline bowling averages and then randomly assigned to one of four goal-setting conditions. A 4 × 5 (Goal Condition × Trials) ANOVA with repeated measures on the last factor revealed a significant goal condition main effect, with the long-term goal group improving more than the do-your-best group. No other performance comparisons reached significance. Questionnaire data revealed that subjects in all three numerical goal conditions rated their level of confidence significantly higher than the do-your-best goal group in Week 1, but the long-term goal group displayed a significantly higher level of confidence than the other three goal groups in Week 4. All other questions indicated that all groups tried hard and were committed to and accepted their goals.

Steven H. Frierman is with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412. Robert S. Weinberg and Allen Jackson are with the Dept. of HPER at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203.

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