Goal Setting by Groups Performing an Additive Task: A Comparison With Individual Goal Setting1


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    A portion of this research was presented at the 16th Interdisciplinary Conference on Groups, Networks, and Organizations, Highland Beach, Florida. I appreciate the comments that Laurie Weingart and Jim Larson made on an earlier draft of this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Verlin B. Hinsz, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University, Fargo. ND 58105–5075.


This article compares goal levels and task performance of groups and individuals that are assigned or self-set goals. Groups performed an additive task that allowed for direct comparison with individuals' i]ndependent performance of the task. Consistent with predictions, groups and individuals selected goals that were less difficult than assigned goals which required only a modest increase in performance. Group members and individuals who were assigned goals attained higher levels of performance than self-set or no goal condition subjects. The prediction that group members and individuals who self-set their goals would have more positive affective reactions to the goal-setting situation than participants in assigned condition was supported. The results of this study are consistent with the existing literature on groups and individuals regarding effects of goals, performance, and affective reactions. Analyses also indicate that the group goal decision process involves a compensatory strategy in which an average of group member preferences for the goal was used to reach a group goal decision. Discussion focuses on the similarities and differences between the findings of self-set and assigned goal-setting situations for groups and individuals, with particular reference to goal choice strategies, goal expectancies, and efficacy.