The purpose of the present investigation was twofold: to determine if subjects who set specific difficult goals perform significantly better than those who set "do your best" goals, and to examine the importance of goal proximity on the performance of the 3-minute sit-up test. Two experiments were conducted, and subjects (N = 96) in both were matched on ability and then randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: (a) short-term goals, (b) long-term goals, (c) short-term plus long-term goals, and (d) "do your best" goals. They were tested once a week for either 5 weeks (Experiment 1) or 3 weeks (Experiment 2). Subjects in the short-term goal condition had weekly sit-up goals, whereas those in the long-term goal condition had only an end goal Performance results from both experiments revealed no significant between-group difference. Questionnaire data indicated that all subjects tried hard, were committed to their goals, and were ego-involved. Manipulation checks revealed, however, that subjects from all conditions were setting their own goals in addition to their experimenter-set goal. Other possible explanations for the lack of differences are couched in the nature of the subject population and the nature of the task.
Robert Weinberg, Lawrence Bruya, and Allen Jackson
Robert Weinberg, Lawrence Bruya, and Allen Jackson
Robert Weinberg, Howard Garland, Lawrence Bruya, and Allen Jackson
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, Lawrence Bruya, Janice Longino, and Allen Jackson
The purpose of this investigation was to test the effects of goal proximity and goal specificity on endurance performance of young children. Subjects were 130 boys and 125 girls from the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. Children were matched on baseline performance of the 2-min sit-up test and then randomly assigned to one of the following goal setting conditions: (a) short-term goal improvement of 4% each test trial, (b) long-term goal of 20% improvement over the course of the 10-week study, (c) short-term plus long-term goal, and (d) do your best. Subjects practiced sit-ups in class every day with practice tests once a week and actual scored tests once every other week. No significant differences between goal-setting conditions were found on baseline performance and thus a 4 × 3 × 2 × 5 (Goal × Grade × Gender × Trials) ANOVA was conducted. Results produced significant gender and grade main effects, with boys and sixth graders exhibiting the best performance. More important, a significant goal-condition-by-trials interaction revealed there were no differences on Trials 1 and 2, but on Trials 3, 4, and 5 the specific goal groups performed significantly better than the do-your-best group. A postexperimental questionnaire revealed that children were highly committed to their goals and tried extremely hard to reach their goals. Results are discussed in terms of Locke's goal-setting theory as well as recent empirical goal-setting studies conducted in physical activity settings.
Robert Weinberg, Curt Fowler, Allen Jackson, Jamie Bagnall, and Lawrence Bruya
The purpose of this investigation was to determine if setting unrealistic goals would produce any significant decreases in motivation and performance. To add external validity to the findings, two experiments were conducted; one used an endurance task with children, and the other used a basketball-shooting task with college students. Subjects were matched on baseline assessments and randomly assigned to one of several goal-setting conditions—from goals that were easy to those that were unrealistic and virtually impossible. A do-your-best control condition was employed in each experiment. Results from both experiments revealed no significant between-group differences for either the sit-up task or the 3-minute shooting task. Questionnaire results indicated that subjects accepted their goals and tried hard to reach them. Although subjects placed in unrealistic-goal conditions did perceive their goal as being more difficult, this did not produce any decrements in their motivation. Results are discussed in terms of previous research in sport and industrial settings concerning the goal-attainability notion.