Goal setting and self-perception



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A causal model was proposed to describe the cognitive processes in goal setting in terms of self-efficacy theory and attribution theory. The model was tested using a laboratory study and an ego-involving task. Subjects, assigned a hard or an easy goal, completed seven trials consisting of task performance and questionnaire ratings of self-efficacy and attributions. Immediately after goal assignment, self-efficacy and performance increased in the hard goal condition but remained constant in the easy goal condition. On subsequent trials, self-efficacy and performance increased continuously and at the same rate in both conditions. The hypothesized relationships between self-efficacy and attributions and attributions and performance were not supported, possibly due to the subjects' interpretation of the attribution measure. Subjects may have rated stability of performance rather than stability of the cause of performance. If so, indirect support for the causal attribution hypotheses was found. The extraordinary self-efficacy, performance, and attribution levels demonstrated the importance of task and setting characteristics and information processing in the iterative goal setting process.



Motivation (Psychology), Goal setting in personnel management