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Performance Effects Of Motivational State: A Meta-Analysis

Christopher H. Utman

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Researchers (e.g., Butler, 1987; Elliott & Dweck, 1988; Grolnick & Ryan, 1987) have recently studied the impact of two different motivational states and have hypothesized that attempting to attain mastery (learning goal) leads to better performance than attempting to demonstrate that one has high ability (performance goal). This article presents a meta-analysis of research in which motivational states are manipulated and confirms that learning goals lead to better performance than do performance goals. The results also indicate that the learning goal advantage may be limited to relatively complex tasks and that the learning goal advantage is smaller for young children than for older individuals. Further, the learning goal advantage was larger when learning goals were moderately pressuring and when participants were tested alone. Theoretical integration of various theories of motivation and practical implications of the findings are discussed.