Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 180–195 | Cite as

The important role of the context in which achievement goals are adopted: an experimental test

  • Moti BenitaEmail author
  • Noa Shane
  • Orit Elgali
  • Guy Roth
Original Paper


Two experimental studies using Elliot, Murayama, and Pekrun’s (Journal of Educational Psychology 103(3):632–648, 2011) differentiation between self-goals and task-goals, were conducted to examine the relative influence of achievement goals and motivational contexts on behavioral and emotional engagement. In Study 1, 133 college students were prompted to adopt self-goals (intrapersonal standards) or other-goals (performance standards) in one of two motivational contexts (autonomy-supportive or autonomy-suppressive) while playing a computer game. In Study 2, 129 college students performed the same assignment, this time adopting either other-goals or task-goals (absolute standards). Study 1 indicated that autonomy-support facilitated behavioral and emotional engagement in autonomy suppressive contexts, but self-goals merely promoted emotional engagement relative to other-goals. Study 2 replicated Study 1’s findings by showing that autonomy support promoted self-reported behavioral engagement and task-goals promoted emotional engagement but further revealed that only when task-goals were adopted in an autonomy-supportive context did they promote better behavioral engagement than other-goals. Thus, Study 2 highlighted the importance of the context in which the achievement goals were adopted (i.e., autonomy-supportive versus suppressive) as an important determinant of the outcome.


Achievement goal theory Autonomy support Goal complex Behavioral engagement Emotional engagement 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Human and animal participants

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), 261–271. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.84.3.261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ames, C., & Archer, J. (1988). Achievement goals in the classroom: Students’ learning strategies and motivation processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(3), 260–267. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.80.3.260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anseel, F., Van Yperen, N. W., Janssen, O., & Duyck, W. (2011). Feedback type as a moderator of the relationship between achievement goals and feedback reactions. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84(4), 703–722. doi: 10.1348/096317910X516372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Atkinson, J. W. (1957). Motivational determinants of risk-taking behavior. Psychological Review, 64(6, Pt.1), 359–372. doi: 10.1037/h0043445.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Beilock, S. L., Bertenthal, B. I., Hoerger, M., & Carr, T. H. (2008). When does haste make waste? Speed-accuracy tradeoff, skill level, and the tools of the trade. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 14(4), 340–352. doi: 10.1037/a0012859.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Benita, M., Roth, G., & Deci, E. L. (2014). When are mastery goals more adaptive? It depends on experiences of autonomy support and autonomy. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1), 258–267. doi: 10.1037/a0034007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bereby-Meyer, Y., & Kaplan, A. (2005). Motivational influences on transfer of problem-solving strategies. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30(1), 1–22. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2004.06.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bergin, D. A. (1995). Effects of a mastery versus competitive motivation situation on learning. The Journal of Experimental Education, 63(4), 303–314. doi: 10.1080/00220973.1995.9943466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Daniels, L. M., Stupnisky, R. H., Pekrun, R., Haynes, T. L., Perry, R. P., & Newall, N. E. (2009). A longitudinal analysis of achievement goals: From affective antecedents to emotional effects and achievement outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 948–963. doi: 10.1037/a0016096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deci, E. L., Eghrari, H., Patrick, B. C., & Leone, D. R. (1994). Facilitating internalization: The self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality, 62(1), 119–142. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1994.tb00797.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “What” and “Why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268. doi: 10.1207/S15327965PLI1104_01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(3), 182–185. doi: 10.1037/a0012801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Delrue, J., Mouratidis, A., Haerens, L., Muynck, G.-J. D., Aelterman, N., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2016). Intrapersonal achievement goals and underlying reasons among long distance runners: Their relation with race experience, self-talk, and running time. Psychologica Belgica, 56(3). doi: 10.5334/pb.280.
  14. Dewar, A. J., Kavussanu, M., & Ring, C. (2013). The effects of achievement goals on emotions and performance in a competitive agility task. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 2(4), 250–264. doi: 10.1037/a0032291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41(10), 1040–1048. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elliot, A. J. (1999). Approach and avoidance motivation and achievement goals. Educational Psychologist, 34(3), 169–189. doi: 10.1207/s15326985ep3403_3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Elliot, A. J., Cury, F., Fryer, J. W., & Huguet, P. (2006). Achievement goals, self-handicapping, and performance attainment: A mediational analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 28(3), 344–361. doi: 10.1123/jsep.28.3.344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Elliot, A. J., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (1996). Approach and avoidance achievement goals and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 461–475. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.70.3.461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elliot, A. J., & McGregor, H. A. (1999). Test anxiety and the hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(4), 628–644. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.76.4.628.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Elliot, A. J., Murayama, K., & Pekrun, R. (2011). A 3 × 2 achievement goal model. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(3), 632–648. doi: 10.1037/a0023952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Elliot, A. J., Shell, M. M., Henry, K. B., & Maier, M. A. (2005). Achievement goals, performance contingencies, and performance attainment: an experimental test. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(4), 630–640. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.97.4.630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2001). Achievement goals and the hierarchical model of achievement motivation. Educational Psychology Review, 13(2), 139–156. doi: 10.1023/A:1009057102306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Förster, J., Tory, E., & Bianco, A. T. (2003). Speed/accuracy decisions in task performance: Built-in trade-off or separate strategic concerns? Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 90(1), 148–164. doi: 10.1016/S0749-5978(02)00509-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gaudreau, P. (2012). Goal self-concordance moderates the relationship between achievement goals and indicators of academic adjustment. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(6), 827–832. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2012.06.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gaudreau, P., & Braaten, A. (2016). Achievement goals and their underlying goal motivation: Does it matter why sport participants pursue their goals?. Psychologica Belgica, 56(3). doi: 10.5334/pb.266.
  26. Gillet, N., Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Huyghebaert, T., & Fouquereau, E. (2015). Autonomous and controlled reasons underlying achievement goals: Implications for the 3 × 2 achievement goal model in educational and work settings. Motivation and Emotion, 39(6), 858–875. doi: 10.1007/s11031-015-9505-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gillet, N., Lafrenière, M.-A. K., Vallerand, R. J., Huart, I., & Fouquereau, E. (2014). The effects of autonomous and controlled regulation of performance-approach goals on well-being: A process model. British Journal of Social Psychology, 53(1), 154–174. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12018.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Graham, S., & Golan, S. (1991). Motivational influences on cognition: Task involvement, ego involvement, and depth of information processing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(2), 187–194. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.83.2.187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Grolnick, W. S., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1997). Internalization within the family: The self-determination theory perspective. In J. E. Grusec & L. Kuczynski (Eds.), Parenting and children’s internalization of values: A handbook of contemporary theory (pp. 135–161). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  30. Harackiewicz, J. M., Barron, K. E., Pintrich, P. R., Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2002). Revision of achievement goal theory: Necessary and illuminating. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(3), 638–645. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.94.3.638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kaplan, A., Middleton, M. J., Urdan, T., & Midgley, C. (2002). Achievement goals and goal structures. In C. Midgley (Ed.), Goals, goal structures, and patterns of adaptive learning (pp. 21–53). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Kavussanu, M., Morris, R. L., & Ring, C. (2009). The effects of achievement goals on performance, enjoyment, and practice of a novel motor task. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27(12), 1281–1292. doi: 10.1080/02640410903229287.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. MacKay, D. G. (1982). The problems of flexibility, fluency, and speed-accuracy trade-off in skilled behavior. Psychological Review, 89(5), 483–506. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.89.5.483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McClelland, D. C., Atkinson, J. W., Clark, R. A., & Lowell, E. L. (1976). The achievement motive (Vol. xxii). Oxford: Irvington.Google Scholar
  35. Michou, A., Matos, L., Gargurevich, R., Gumus, B., & Herrera, D. (2016). Building on the Enriched hierarchical model of achievement motivation: Autonomous and controlling reasons underlying mastery goals. Psychologica Belgica, 56(3). doi: 10.5334/pb.281.
  36. Michou, A., Vansteenkiste, M., Mouratidis, A., & Lens, W. (2014). Enriching the hierarchical model of achievement motivation: Autonomous and controlling reasons underlying achievement goals. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(4), 650–666. doi: 10.1111/bjep.12055.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Midgley, C., Kaplan, A., & Middleton, M. (2001). Performance-approach goals: Good for what, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost? Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 77–86. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.93.1.77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nicholls, J. G. (1984). Achievement motivation: Conceptions of ability, subjective experience, task choice, and performance. Psychological Review, 91(3), 328–346. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.91.3.32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pintrich, P. R. (2000). Multiple goals, multiple pathways: The role of goal orientation in learning and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(3), 544–555. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.92.3.544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ranellucci, J., Hall, N. C., & Goetz, T. (2015). Achievement goals, emotions, learning, and performance: A process model. Motivation Science, 1(2), 98–120. doi: 10.1037/mot0000014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Reeve, J., & Jang, H. (2006). What teachers say and do to support students’ autonomy during a learning activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 209–218. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.98.1.209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reeve, J., Jang, H., Carrell, D., Jeon, S., & Barch, J. (2004). Enhancing Students’ Engagement by Increasing Teachers’ Autonomy Support. Motivation and Emotion, 28(2), 147–169. doi: 10.1023/B:MOEM.0000032312.95499.6f.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Roth, G., Assor, A., Niemiec, C. P., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2009). The emotional and academic consequences of parental conditional regard: Comparing conditional positive regard, conditional negative regard, and autonomy support as parenting practices. Developmental Psychology, 45(4), 1119–1142. doi: 10.1037/a0015272.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Ryan, R. M. (1982). Control and information in the intrapersonal sphere: An extension of cognitive evaluation theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(3), 450–461. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.43.3.450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Senko, C., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2005). Regulation of achievement goals: The role of competence feedback. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(3), 320–336. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.97.3.320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Senko, C., Hulleman, C. S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2011). Achievement goal theory at the crossroads: Old controversies, current challenges, and new directions. Educational Psychologist, 46(1), 26–47. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2011.538646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Spray, C. M., John Wang, C. K., Biddle, S. J. H., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2006). Understanding motivation in sport: An experimental test of achievement goal and self determination theories. European Journal of Sport Science, 6(1), 43–51. doi: 10.1080/17461390500422879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Urdan, T. C. (1997). Achievement goal theory: Past results, future directions. In M. L. Maehr & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 10, pp. 99–141). Greenwich: JAI.Google Scholar
  50. Van Yperen, N. W., Blaga, M., & Postmes, T. (2015). A meta-analysis of the impact of situationally induced achievement goals on task performance. Human Performance, 28(2), 165–182. doi: 10.1080/08959285.2015.1006772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Elliot, A. J., Soenens, B., & Mouratidis, A. (2014). Moving the achievement goal approach one step forward: Toward a systematic examination of the autonomous and controlled reasons underlying achievement goals. Educational Psychologist, 49(3), 153–174. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2014.928598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vansteenkiste, M., Mouratidis, A., & Lens, W. (2010). Detaching reasons from aims: Fair play and well-being in soccer as a function of pursuing performance-approach goals for autonomous or controlling reasons. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 32(2), 217–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Sheldon, K. M., & Deci, E. L. (2004). Motivating learning, performance, and persistence: The synergistic effects of intrinsic goal contents and autonomy-supportive contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 246–260. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.87.2.246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Vansteenkiste, M., Smeets, S., Soenens, B., Lens, W., Matos, L., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Autonomous and controlled regulation of performance-approach goals: Their relations to perfectionism and educational outcomes. Motivation and Emotion, 34(4), 333–353. doi: 10.1007/s11031-010-9188-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vansteenkiste, M., Van Riet, T., & Lens, W. (2014). Examining correlates of game-to-game variation in volleyball players’ achievement goal pursuit and underlying autonomous and controlling reasons. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 36(2), 131–145. doi: 10.1123/jsep.2012-0271.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Wickelgren, W. A. (1977). Speed-accuracy tradeoff and information processing dynamics. Acta Psychologica, 41(1), 67–85. doi: 10.1016/0001-6918(77)90012-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling and Human DevelopmentUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of EducationBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeershebaIsrael

Personalised recommendations