The effect of goal difficulty and goal orientation on running performance in young female athletes

Tenenbaum, Gershon and Spence, Ron and Christensen, Steven (1999) The effect of goal difficulty and goal orientation on running performance in young female athletes. Australian Journal of Psychology, 51 (1). pp. 6-11. ISSN 0004-9530


Locke and Latham (1985) hypothesised that goals are more efficiently attained when they are perceived to be difficult but realistic to achieve. Furthermore, goal orientation is believed to be a strong determinant of effort exertion and adherence in performing tasks. To verify these two concepts, in real-life situations, 28 young female runners (13–16 years) were blocked (randomly assigned) to one of three goal-difficulty conditions over a 4-week period: easy, difficult/realistic, and improbable/unattainable. Short-term goals for each condition were set (1.25%, 2.5%, and 3.75% improvement per week, respectively), as were long-term goals (5%, 10%, and 15% overall improvement, respectively). Participants completed the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire prior to the goal intervention. Locke and Latham's (1985) goal attainability hypothesis was not supported by the results of the study, as athletes enhanced their running performance equally regardless of their specific goals. Both ego and task orientations were found to be moderately but significantly correlated with running improvement rate. However, task and ego orientation were found to be significantly correlated to each other, indicating that, in this sample of athletes, these two orientations were not independent of each other. Together, they accounted for 30% of the improvement rate variance across 4 weeks. The additive effect of goal orientation and goal setting on athletic performance should be investigated for a longer period of time and with experienced athletes of a high calibre.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright 1999 Australian Psychological Society. Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2007 11:47
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2014 23:50
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170114 Sport and Exercise Psychology
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/00049539908255328

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