Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 333–353 | Cite as

Autonomous and controlled regulation of performance-approach goals: Their relations to perfectionism and educational outcomes

  • Maarten VansteenkisteEmail author
  • Stijn Smeets
  • Bart Soenens
  • Willy Lens
  • Lennia Matos
  • Edward L. Deci
Original Paper


The present research uses self-determination theory to examine whether autonomous and controlled regulation of performance-approach (PAp) goals would differentially predict educational outcomes and add to the variance explained by the goal strength. Two cross-sectional studies among 10th to 12th grade students supported this hypothesis but showed that when regulations of PAp goals were entered into the same regression equation with the PAp goal strength, the PAp goal strength no longer predicted outcomes. Study 2 examined perfectionism in relation to PAp goals and types of regulation, thereby showing that whereas adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism were both positively related to PAp goals, adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism were associated with autonomous and controlled regulations, respectively. Finally, path modeling indicated that autonomous and controlled regulations of PAp goals (but not PAp goals themselves) accounted for nearly all of the relation between the types of perfectionism and learning outcomes. The discussion emphasizes that it is critical to move beyond the consideration of PAp goals per se, thereby considering the types of regulation of PAp goals.


Performance-approach goals Autonomous and controlled motivation Achievement goal theory Self-determination theory 



We would like to thank Ellen Duyck for her fantastic help in collecting the data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maarten Vansteenkiste
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stijn Smeets
    • 2
  • Bart Soenens
    • 1
  • Willy Lens
    • 2
  • Lennia Matos
    • 3
  • Edward L. Deci
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGent UniversityGentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.University of LimaLimaPeru
  4. 4.Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in PsychologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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