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Do avoidance goals always impair performance? How neuroticism moderates the short- and long-Term effects of avoidance versus approach goals on performance


Oertig, Daniela; Schüler, Julia; Brandstätter, Veronika (2012). Do avoidance goals always impair performance? How neuroticism moderates the short- and long-Term effects of avoidance versus approach goals on performance. In: Magnusson, A L; Lindberg, D J. Psychology of performance and defeat. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 111-132.

Abstract

Previous research agrees that approach goals have positive effects whereas avoidance goals have negative effects on performance. By contrast, the present chapter looks at the conditions under which even avoidance goals may have positive effects on performance. We will first review the previous research that supports the positive consequences of avoidance goals. Then we will argue that the positive and negative consequences of approach and avoidance goals on performance depend on an individual's neuroticism level and the time frame of their goal striving. Because neuroticism is positively related to avoidance goals, we assume that individuals with high levels of neuroticism may derive some benefits from avoidance goals. We have specified this assumption by hypothesizing that the fit between an individual's level of neuroticism and their avoidance goals leads to favorable consequences in the short term - but to negative outcomes in the long run. A short-term, experimental study with employees and a long-term correlative field study with undergraduate students were conducted to test whether neuroticism moderates the short- and long-term effects of avoidance versus approach goals on performance. Experimental study 1 showed that individuals with a high level of neuroticism performed best in the short term when they were assigned to avoidance goals, whereas individuals with a low level of neuroticism performed best when pursuing approach goals. However, study 2 indicated that in the long run individuals with a high level of neuroticism performed worse when striving for avoidance goals, whereas individuals with a low level of neuroticism were not impaired at all by avoidance goals. In summary, the pattern of results supports the hypothesis that a fit between a high level of neuroticism and avoidance goals has positive consequences in the short term, but leads to negative outcomes in the long run. We strongly encourage further research to investigate short- and long-term effects of approach and avoidance goals on performance in conjunction with an individual's personality, which may moderate these effects.

Previous research agrees that approach goals have positive effects whereas avoidance goals have negative effects on performance. By contrast, the present chapter looks at the conditions under which even avoidance goals may have positive effects on performance. We will first review the previous research that supports the positive consequences of avoidance goals. Then we will argue that the positive and negative consequences of approach and avoidance goals on performance depend on an individual's neuroticism level and the time frame of their goal striving. Because neuroticism is positively related to avoidance goals, we assume that individuals with high levels of neuroticism may derive some benefits from avoidance goals. We have specified this assumption by hypothesizing that the fit between an individual's level of neuroticism and their avoidance goals leads to favorable consequences in the short term - but to negative outcomes in the long run. A short-term, experimental study with employees and a long-term correlative field study with undergraduate students were conducted to test whether neuroticism moderates the short- and long-term effects of avoidance versus approach goals on performance. Experimental study 1 showed that individuals with a high level of neuroticism performed best in the short term when they were assigned to avoidance goals, whereas individuals with a low level of neuroticism performed best when pursuing approach goals. However, study 2 indicated that in the long run individuals with a high level of neuroticism performed worse when striving for avoidance goals, whereas individuals with a low level of neuroticism were not impaired at all by avoidance goals. In summary, the pattern of results supports the hypothesis that a fit between a high level of neuroticism and avoidance goals has positive consequences in the short term, but leads to negative outcomes in the long run. We strongly encourage further research to investigate short- and long-term effects of approach and avoidance goals on performance in conjunction with an individual's personality, which may moderate these effects.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:12 Aug 2014 13:42
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:00
Publisher:Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Series Name:Psychology of performance and defeat
ISBN:978-161942827-0

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