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Edwin A. Locke

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Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham

Studies of goal setting both in organizations and the laboratory have found that (a) specific, difficult goals lead to better performance than vague or easy goals; (b) short-term goals can facilitate the achievement of long-term goals; (c) goals affect performance by affecting effort, persistence, and direction of attention, and by motivating strategy development; (d) feedback regarding progress is necessary for goal setting to work; and (e) goals must be accepted if they are to affect performance. The implications of these findings for athletics are discussed. Ten hypotheses, based on previous research, are offered regarding the effects of goal setting in sports. In addition, suggestions are made regarding the following: setting goals for both practice and game situations; setting goals for different elements of athletic skill as well as for strength and stamina; using goals to increase self-confidence; using short-term goals to help attain long-term performance goals; improving performance by increasing task difficulty independently of goal difficulty; and obtaining goal acceptance and commitment in sports.

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Bart S. Lerner and Edwin A. Locke

This study investigated the effects of goal setting, self-efficacy, competition, and personality on the performance of a sit-up task. Prior to testing, participants were administered the Sport Orientation Questionnaire (SOQ; Gill & Deeter, 1988). Using a 2 × 2 + 1 design, 60 participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (a) competition, medium goal; (b) competition, high goal; (c) no competition, medium goal; and (d) no competition, high goal. A fifth group from the same population (n = 15) was added and served as the do-best comparison group. The main effect of goal level was borderline significant (p < .059), and this effect was fully mediated by personal goal level and self-efficacy. Also, both the medium and hard goal groups significantly outperformed the do-best group. Competition did not affect performance, personal goals, commitment, or self-efficacy. The SOQ was significantly related to performance, but its effects were fully mediated by personal goals and self-efficacy.