Cummings, L. L., Schwab, D., & Rosen, M. (1971). Performance and knowledge of results as determinants of goal setting. Journal of Applied Psychology, 55, 526-530.

Addition problems were performed for 20 minutes. The following relationships between knowledge of results (KR) and goal-setting were revealed.

  1. KR influences the levels of goals set for subsequent behaviors.
  2. Correct KR is better than no-KR or false-KR. The practice of giving false performance information serves no constructive value.
  3. The performance of one trial affects the goal levels set for the next trial. Generally, the greater the performance change, the higher will be the subsequent goal.
  4. When the effects of a performance are explained and accounted for, KR still influences the goal levels set for the next trial.

Implication. Persons do not normally aim for goals that their previous performance indicates would be unrealistic or non-challenging. Coaches have to be honest and realistic in performance analysis and when suggesting goals. Attempting to "motivate" by setting "impossible" goals (as perceived by the athlete), is unlikely to improve performance and more likely will cause performance to worsen.

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