Harackiewicz, J. M., Abrahams, S., & Wagerman, R. (1987). Performance evaluation and intrinsic motivation: the effects of evaluative focus, rewards, and achievement orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1015-1023.

It was found that:

Implication. When goal-setting, a coach should emphasize task-evaluation not comparisons with others. Short-term or immediate goals can provide more opportunities for task-mastery and evaluation than long-term goals, and so motivation can be increased. Competition produces social comparisons and so is not as important for affecting performer application as is commonly claimed.

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