Locke, E. A., & Bryan, J. F. (1966). The effects of goal-setting, rule learning, and knowledge of score on performance. American Journal of Psychology, 79, 451-457.

An attempt was made to measure: (a) the effect of performance information (PI) on a future pursuit, (b) the influence of set performance goals on effort level, and (c) the effect of learning relevant rules on performance.

A mental activity involving complex computation tasks according to rules was used to indicate performance. Three groups performed in the experiment: Group 1 - aim for trial score plus 15 points (higher than on previous task); Group 2 - provided with self-evaluated correct knowledge of performance, and Group 3 - given no knowledge of total scores but provided with knowledge of correct answers. After six trials, Ss were asked to explain their goals and how they viewed the task procedures.

It was found that there was no effect of knowledge of score on performance (Group 3). Trying for a hard standard led to higher levels of performance than occurred when goals were set with only KR (Group 1). The group which first memorized rules for setting goals and performing the task performed better earlier.

Implications. If practice behaviors are to be influenced favorably and result in meaningful experiences, the following characteristics need to be employed.

  1. Tasks should be explained and understood by athletes before they are attempted. This constitutes establishing rules for the process of the activity. This needs to be clearly communicated in the activity introduction.
  2. Directed practice programs will lead to more rapid and higher levels of achievement than those which allow athletes to self-set goals (permissive practice).
  3. Improvement progress in the activity is a major influence, more so than just receiving performance feedback or PI.

It is the nature of the goal or the intention for the practice activity rather than PI which affects performance.

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