Achievement Goal Theory

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Achievement goal theory: A social-cognitive psychology theory that seeks to understand differences in achievement and concerns how different students and athletes are motivationally oriented. According to the theory, three interacting factors determine a person's motivation: achievement goals, perceived ability, and achievement behavior.

There are different terms used to describe this achievement theory. One way it is described is that individuals are either "outcome oriented" or "task oriented." Outcome orientation is also sometimes called competitive goal orientation. Similar to this is "ego oriented" versus "task oriented." Another states athletes and others are either "performance oriented" or "mastery oriented."

These different orientations depend on how the athlete looks at achievement and success and tries to predict how they will respond to success and failure. Athletes who are outcome, ego, or performance oriented place more importance on how they compare to others, and rewards that come with achievement such as trophies, so are more likely to value performance, regardless of what it took to achieve that performance. These athletes may be more likely to pick tasks that they know they can do well in.

Those that are task, performance, or mastery goal oriented value learning and the process of mastery and so are more likely to pick tasks they can learn the most from, regardless if it is difficult for them to succeed. More emphasis is placed on improving over past performances1,2,3

It is quite possible for a person to be both task and outcome oriented, according to the situation. However, most researchers believe that people tend to be generally higher on either task or outcome orientation.3

See Motivation May be an Overused Term in Strength Training and Fitness and the video below, which concerns these theories of motivation and the overuse of the term motivation in the fitness industry.

1. Moran, Aidan P. Sport and Exercise Psychology: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge, 2004.
2. Bornstein, Marc H., and Michael E. Lamb. Developmental Science: An Advanced Textbook. New York: Psychology/taylor & Francis, 2011.
3. Weinberg, Robert S., and Daniel Gould. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology (2.ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1999.

This page created 27 Oct 2013 19:04
Last updated 19 Feb 2017 02:09

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