Smith, M., & Lee, C. (1992). Goal setting and performance in a novel coordination task: Mediating mechanisms. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 14, 169-176.

Ss (N = 51) were grouped to perform a novel task under one of three conditions: public goal-setting, private goal-setting, and no goal-setting. The goals selected, time spent practicing, and strategies used during practice and actual performance were assessed.

Both goal-setting groups performed better than the no-goal control group. The public goal-setting group spent more time practicing, but did not eventually perform any better than the less-practiced private goal-setting group. Baseline (initial) performance levels and the goal set predicted performance best. Practice time, training strategy, and public goal-setting did not account for further performance variance.

These results suggest that goal-setting is beneficial for performing a novel task. However, additional practice did not influence performance. This could be an artifact of the task, the type of subjects, and the fact that the task was novel. Since no attempt was made to evaluate learning rates, the reason for the unexpected lack of influence of extra practice was not forthcoming.

Implication. Setting goals, even when learning novel tasks, produces performance improvements over no goal-setting.

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