Goal-setting : a psychological skill and an individual difference factor
This thesis comprises a collection of research papers within the areas of goalsetting as a psychological skill, and as an individual difference factor (previously interpreted as a personality characteristic). It uses a variety of methodologies and statistical analyses to address pertinent research questions identified from the goalsetting and goal perspectives literature. The first two studies examined the influence of goal-setting practices on performance and associated cognitions. Specifically, the results from the first study provide support for the use of self-referenced goals, while indicating that process goals have additional benefits over and above those associated with performance goals. The second study into goal-setting suggested that utilising process goals in a more holistic (rather than specific) manner might prove efficacious when they are incorporated into a pre-performance routine. Although the findings providing some support for the use of process goals, it appears that the exact nature of the process goals used is important. The remaining three research studies looked at the propensity of individuals to judge personal ability according to normative and/or self-referenced criteria (ego and task goal orientations). The first study in this area suggested that these criteria change in a systematic fashion in response to naturally occurring situations, and that ability level moderates this effect. The results of the second study indicated that competition performance is differentially affected according to the specific goal orientation profile that athletes hold. The third research study provides evidence which suggests that skill level might be predi icted according to the patterning of goal orientations possessed by athletes.