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An Examination of the Effects of Performance Improvement Goals and Feedback on Performance and Persistence on an Analog Work Task
AuthorRoose, Kathryn M.
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In 1968, the first cohesive theory on goal setting proposed that difficult goals produce higher levels of performance than easy goals and that specific goals produce a higher level of performance than "do your best" goals. Whereas over 40 years of research supports this theory, there has been some discrepancy regarding the use of very high goals. This study was designed to examine the effects on performance of different levels of performance improvement goals and two different types of feedback, as feedback is often used in conjunction with goal setting. In Study 1, a 2x2 factorial design examined the effects of a 150% performance improvement goal and a 200% performance improvement goal, as well as two types of feedback. One feedback showed the participants their progress towards the goal as a percent, while the other showed the participants their progress towards the goals as a percent, plus what percent of the goal they should have completed by that point in the session in order to meet the goal by the end of the session. In Study 2, a single subject design was used, with half of the experimental participants being given a performance goal of a 150% improvement over baseline, and the other half being given a 175% increase over baseline performance goal. Participants were given the same two types of feedback as the participants in Study 1, counterbalanced across the first and second experimental conditions, and then given a choice between the two types of feedback for a final condition. Results indicate that lower goals produced higher increases in performance than higher goals, and that lower goals produced increases in accuracy, while the higher goals produced decreases in accuracy. However, the participants with the higher goal worked longer, by use of the Start Over button. In addition, feedback during performance that made clear the discrepancy between a participant's current performance and performance necessary to reach the goal produced higher increases in responding and very slightly higher accuracy than feedback that only provided a record of correct responses and percent of goal completion. However, the participants that received feedback only on percent of goal completion worked longer, by use of the Start Over button.