Weingart, L. R., & Weldon, E. (1991). Processes that mediate the relationship between a group goal and group member performance. Human Performance, 4, 33-54.

What happens when group goals are added to individual goals was assessed by impacting a group goal on anonymous and noninteracting group members' performances on an additive group task. This is analogous to imposing a group aspiration onto a sporting team where each individual has a particular defined responsibility (e.g., a member of a swim team as opposed to a member of a rowing crew). Ss for the study were undergraduate students (N = 75).

Results. Four major findings emerged from the study.

  1. Those working toward a performance goal outperformed those without a goal.
  2. Information about a group's previous performance did not influence commitment to the group goal or performance. Only existing conditions influenced the approach to the group-augmented task condition.
  3. Changes in individual performance strategies modified the group goal effect but self-reports of effort invested in the task did not. That means that what resulted affected what the group would do rather than what members said they did or felt.
  4. Group members working toward a group goal felt more personal challenge than group members working without a goal.
  5. Self-set individual goals could not account for the group goal effect.

Implication. Adding group goals to individual goals raises the level of aspiration of group members. However, behavior is only influenced by the performances and results that occur within the group, not statements of intent or appreciation. Thus, for group influences to be effective members must perform and demonstrate their intentions rather than talk about them.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.