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When performance-approach goals predict academic achievement and when they do not: A social value approach


Correspondence should be addressed to Benoît Dompnier, Université de Lausanne, Géopolis, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland (e-mail:


Research on achievement goal promotion at University has shown that performance-approach goals are perceived as a means to succeed at University (high social utility) but are not appreciated (low social desirability). We argue that such a paradox could explain why research has detected that performance-approach goals consistently predict academic grades. First-year psychology students answered a performance-approach goal scale with standard, social desirability and social utility instructions. Participants' grades were recorded at the end of the semester. Results showed that the relationship between performance-approach goals and grades was inhibited by the increase of these goals' social desirability and facilitated by the increase of their social utility, revealing that the predictive validity of performance-approach goals depends on social value.