Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 483-498

First online:

Proximal goal-setting and self-regulatory processes

  • Jennifer StockAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • , Daniel CervoneAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

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Despite much theoretical discussion, relatively little research has examined the motivational effects of proximal goal-setting, and existing findings are inconsistent. This experiment examines the effects of proximal subgoals on perceived self-efficacy, self-evaluative reactions to performance, and task persistence. Subjects performed a complex problem-solving task under conditions involving either no subgoal, an attainable subgoal, or an unattainable subgoal. The self-regulatory processes were assessed prior to and during performance. Setting a subgoal boosted initial perceived self-efficacy. Attaining the proximal goal increased self-efficacy perceptions, self-satisfaction with performance, and subsequent task persistence. Changes in perceived self-efficacy mediated the effects of subgoal attainment on behavior.

Key words

proximal goal-setting self-regulation motivation self-efficacy self-evaluation