Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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The impact of goal progress and individual differences on self‐regulation in training


The present study examined how individuals in an organizational training program regulated both their performance goals and effort in response to goal–performance discrepancies (GPDs), as well as the impact of individual differences (goal orientation) on these processes. Four hundred and sixty‐two employees participating in a high‐fidelity training simulation for a pharmaceutical sales position were observed over the course of 10 days to examine how they altered both their goals and individual effort in response to performance feedback they received from the organization. Consistent with past research conducted outside of the workplace, the results indicated that both goal revision and effort expenditure were significantly related to the GPDs experienced by individuals such that individuals receiving feedback that they were performing below their goal were likely to both set less challenging future goals and exert more effort. Results also suggested that this relationship was moderated by the employee's learning goal orientation (LGO) and performance‐avoid goal orientation. Individuals with a strong LGO were more likely to address GPDs by increasing effort, whereas those with a strong performance‐avoid orientation tended to utilize goal revision to address their GPDs. Theoretical and applied implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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