The influence of mastery-avoidance goals on performance improvement



Two experiments focused on examining the influence of mastery-avoidance goals on performance improvement, and more specifically, on mastery-avoidance goals grounded in an intrapersonal standard. That is, herein, mastery-avoidance goals entail striving to avoid doing worse than one has done before. Both experiments demonstrated that in a multiple-trial context, mastery-avoidance goals are deleterious for performance improvement relative to mastery-approach, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance goals, and a no goal baseline. The findings were shown to be independent of participants' perceptions of goal difficulty, and were consistent not only across methodology but also across type of participant (undergraduates versus individuals in the workforce), and type and length of achievement task (a verbal skills task versus an ecologically valid managerial competencies exercise). Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.