A meta-analysis of self-reported achievement goals and nonself-report performance across three achievement domains (work, sports, and education)

Nico Van Yperen, Monica Blaga, Tom Postmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Downloads (Pure)


During the past three decades, the achievement goal approach to achievement motivation has emerged as an influential area of research, and is dedicated to understanding the reasons behind the individual's drive to achieve competence and performance. However, the current literature on achievement goals is segmented rather than integrated. That is, citations across the three major and distinct achievement domains (work, education, and sports) are more the exception than the rule and similarities and differences between findings for the different achievement domains have yet to be tested. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationships between self-reported achievement goals and nonself-report performance through meta-analysis, and the moderating potential of achievement domain. Identifying achievement domain as moderator improves our understanding to which contexts we can (not) generalize conclusions to, it helps to understand seemingly inconsistent findings, and opens avenues for future research on the underlying processes. Because the achievement goal (AG) measure used in a study is partially confounded with achievement domain, we examined the moderating role of this variable as well. Our findings suggest that - overall - approach goals (either mastery or performance) were associated positively with performance attainment, whereas avoidance goals (either mastery or performance) were associated negatively with performance attainment. These relationships were moderated by achievement domain. For example, relative to the education or work domain, in the sports domain, we did not observe negative correlations between avoidance goals and performance. The absence of statistical moderation due to AG measure suggests that the observed moderation of achievement domain cannot be explained by the AG measure utilized. We suggest further steps to integrate the achievement goal literature, and accordingly, to broaden and deepen understanding of performance attainment in competence-relevant settings, including the workplace, the sports field, and the classroom.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLOS one
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


Cite this