Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 387–399 | Cite as

Highlighting the difference between approach and avoidance motivation enhances the predictive validity of performance-avoidance goal reports

  • Emily J. HangenEmail author
  • Andrew J. Elliot
  • Jeremy P. Jamieson
Original Paper


This research investigated whether highlighting the difference between norm-based approach and avoidance motivation impacts performance goal reporting accuracy. Participants were randomly assigned to receive no instructions, or reading materials indicating that norm-based approach and avoidance motivation are the same (Same condition) or different (Different condition). In Study 1 (N = 978), experimental condition was tested as a moderator of the relation between antecedent variables and performance goal reports. In Study 2 (N = 957), experimental condition was tested as a moderator of the predictive utility of performance goal reports. Both studies showed that while relations with performance-approach goals remained unaffected, experimental condition moderated the relation between performance-avoidance goal reports and their antecedent variables (Study 1), and their process and outcome variables (Study 2). The strongest associations (the most accurate goal reports) came from the different condition. Highlighting the difference between approach and avoidance enhanced the predictive validity of performance-avoidance goal reports. Implications for understanding and measuring achievement goals are discussed.


Approach motivation Avoidance motivation Performance-approach Performance-avoidance Achievement goals 



We would like to thank Allison Ryan for providing the adaptive help seeking and help avoidance measures used in study 2.


This work was supported by the National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship (NSF GRFP DGE 1419118) awarded to EJH.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of RochesterRochesterUSA
  2. 2.University of RochesterRochesterUSA
  3. 3.University of RochesterRochesterUSA

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