Reactions to Feedback in Goal Choice and Goal Change Processes1


  • 1

    We would like to thank David Day, Howard Klein, and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Marie Waung, University of Michigan—Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, MI 48128–1491.


Two laboratory studies were conducted to test the effects of reactions to feedback on propensity to change an initial self-selected performance goal. In Study 1, the performance of 228 subjects on a word search task was manipulated by varying puzzle difficulty. In Study 2, two-dimensional goals (i.e., time and quantity) were first assigned and then chosen by 75 subjects. In Study 1, satisfaction with performance and self-efficacy predicted goal change beyond the effects of past performance. Subjects lower in both satisfaction and self-efficacy tended to lower initial goals, whereas those higher in either or both variables tended to raise them. In a post-hoc analysis, goal-performance discrepancies and motivational force interacted to explain satisfaction with performance for subjects experiencing negative feedback. This result was replicated in Study 2 for self-selected quantity goals. In Study 2, satisfaction with performance explained goal choice beyond the effects of past performance for initial time goals and final quantity goals. Trade-offs in the selection of dual goals occurred, with subjects selecting a difficult goal on one dimension and an easy goal on the other. Suggestions for future research and practice on self-regulation of goals and performance are provided.