Setting lower limits high: The role of boundary goals in achievement motivation.

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Boundary goals specify the minimum performance level that an individual must attain to subjectively experience success. The present research integrates boundary goals into the hierarchical model of achievement motivation (A. J. Elliot, 2006) by positing that boundary goals are a subgoal in the goal hierarchy. The authors predicted that performance approach goals would be associated with higher boundary goals, whereas performance avoidance goals would be associated with lower boundary goals. The authors further predicted that boundary goals would mediate the association between achievement goals and performance, independent of other target goals (i.e., levels of aspiration). The authors also evaluated whether boundary goals served a similar role in explaining associations between mastery goals and performance. These predictions were tested by tracking the performance of 347 college students across the semester. As predicted, performance approach goals were positively associated with boundary goals (β = .32), whereas performance avoidance goals were negatively associated with boundary goals (β = −.11). Furthermore the authors found that mastery approach goals had positive associations with boundary goals (β = .29), whereas the opposite pattern occurred for mastery avoidance goals (β = −.25). Boundary goals were positively linked to exam scores (β = .32) and mediated the associations between performance approach, mastery approach, and mastery avoidance goals and grades. These statistical effects were independent of the effects of level of aspiration. In short, boundary goals seem to play an important role in the achievement motivation process and may therefore serve as a potentially useful focus for interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)


Journal of Educational Psychology



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