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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Both experiments contained two neutral contexts (one for each goal), serving as control conditions. However, for the sake of brevity, these conditions have been removed from the manuscript. Interested readers may contact the authors and receive data that includes the neutral conditions.
The ANOVA with goal condition and context as the independent variables and with level of perceived competence as the dependent variable yielded null results, F (1, 189) = 0.08, p < .78, F (2, 189) = 0.87, p = .423, F (2, 189) = 1.04, p = .357, for goal condition, context and the interaction effect, respectively, indicating that the context manipulation did not affect participants’ sense of competence.
Testing differences among conditions on the level of perceived competence yielded null results, F (2, 184) = 0.93, p = .393, F (1, 184) = 0.81, p = .370, F (2, 184) = 0.59, p = .553, for goal conditions, context and interaction effect, respectively, indicating that the context manipulation did not affect participants’ sense of competence.
Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), 261–271. doi:10.1037/0022-06126.96.36.1991.
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:10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.520.
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.
Atkinson, J. W. (1957). Motivational determinants of risk-taking behavior. Psychological Review, 64(6, Pt.1), 359–372. doi:10.1037/h0043445.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41(10), 1040–1048. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1040.
Elliot, A. J. (1999). Approach and avoidance motivation and achievement goals. Educational Psychologist, 34(3), 169–189. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3403_3.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2061.
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:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.118.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-0618.104.22.1680.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-0622.214.171.124.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-06126.96.36.1998.
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.
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.
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.
McClelland, D. C., Atkinson, J. W., Clark, R. A., & Lowell, E. L. (1976). The achievement motive (Vol. xxii). Oxford: Irvington.
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.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.52.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.2064.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.11.
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.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1680.
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.
Senko, C., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2005). Regulation of achievement goals: The role of competence feedback. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(3), 320–336. doi:10.1037/0022-0622.214.171.1240.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199.
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.
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.
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.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
About this article
Cite this article
Benita, M., Shane, N., Elgali, O. et al. The important role of the context in which achievement goals are adopted: an experimental test. Motiv Emot 41, 180–195 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-016-9600-8
- Achievement goal theory
- Autonomy support
- Goal complex
- Behavioral engagement
- Emotional engagement