Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 179–193 | Cite as

The role of goal specificity in the goal-setting process

  • Howard J. Klein
  • Ellen M. Whitener
  • Daniel R. Ilgen


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between goal specificity and task performance, with specificity operationalized as a continuous quantitative variable reflecting the range of performance levels individuals chose as their personal goals. It was hypothesized that, controlling for goal difficulty, specific personal goals would be associated with higher levels of task performance. It was also hypothesized that task strategy would mediate the relationship between goal specificity and performance and that specific goals would be associated with smaller goal-performance discrepancies. The results from a sample of 162 college students working on an eye-hand coordination task supported the hypothesis concerning goal-performance discrepancies. They hypotheses regarding task strategy and the relationship between goal specificity and performance were supported only on the second of two trials.


College Student Social Psychology Task Performance Performance Level Quantitative Variable 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard J. Klein
    • 1
  • Ellen M. Whitener
    • 2
  • Daniel R. Ilgen
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Management and Human ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbus
  2. 2.University of VirginiaUSA
  3. 3.Michigan State UniversityUSA

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