House, W. C. (1973). Performance expectancies and affect associated with outcomes as a function of time perspective. Journal of Research in Personality, 7, 277-288.

As the anticipated delay interval for the attainment of a tangible reward increases, the subjective value of the reward decreases. This basic principle is applicable to most reward situations. For example:

  1. When athletes intend to train for a long-distance goal, such as making a commitment to train for an Olympic Games in four years time, there should be more emphasis on much shorter goals than the long-term one. Doing the best possible in the current season should take on greater importance than the distant intention.
  2. In an extended performance, such as playing a soccer game or running a 1500 m race, it is more effective to construct intermediate goals that can be evaluated during the single performance than it is to focus only on the terminal outcome. Thus, evaluation stages of the ongoing performance are much more important for affecting performance than distal goals.

Implication. No matter what the final goal, athletes must be kept attuned to the ongoing process that will eventually lead to the ultimate goal. Long-term goals are not very influential although they can be easily verbalized.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.