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.
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This research was supported by Grant MH44956 from the National Institute of Mental Health to Daniel Cervone. This work was part of Jennifer Stock's master's thesis at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Larry Grimm and Mitch Rabinowitz are thanked for their suggestions and comments on the research.
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Stock, J., Cervone, D. Proximal goal-setting and self-regulatory processes. Cogn Ther Res 14, 483–498 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01172969
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