A Picture of Performance Goals in the Social Plenum: The Interpersonal Antecedents and Consequences of Performance Goals

Abstract : Although competence-relevant activities (e.g., solving an academic problem) are often embedded in interpersonal (e.g., classroom), hierarchical (e.g., teacher/pupils), and norm-/value-specific (e.g., culture) settings, the study of performance goals—the desire to demonstrate competence relative to others—has mostly been conducted at the intrapersonal level alone. Drawing on the transactional model of stress and coping, the circumplex model of interpersonal behaviors, as well as on the conflict elaboration theory, the first part of this thesis reveals the interpersonal consequences of performance goals on the regulation of a specific behavior, namely socio-cognitive conflict (i.e., a situation of confrontation with a disagreeing interactant): Performance-approach goals—the desire to outperform others—predicted a highly agentic (dominant) conflict regulation, that is, the validation of one’s point of view at the expense of that of the interactant (which we labeled competitive regulation); whereas performance-avoidance goals—the desire not to be outperformed by others—predicted a poorly agentic (submissive) conflict regulation, that is, the invalidation of one’s point of view to the benefit of that of the interactant (which we labeled protective regulation). Furthermore, both the aforementioned effects were found to increase when the interactant was presented as being superiorly (vs. equally) in competence. Drawing on the literature on group goal structure, as well as on research on socialization of supervisors-based values, the second part of this thesis reveals the interpersonal antecedents of performance-based goals endorsement, focusing—more specifically—on the role of group-supervisors in performance goals socialization: Supervisor’s performance-approach goals were positively associated with the emergence over time of subordinates’ performance-approach (especially when perceiving themselves as competent) and -avoidance goals (especially when perceiving themselves as incompetent). Furthermore, providing evidence that this phenomenon essentially reflects a socialization process, both the aforementioned effects were found to increase as subordinates’ in-group identification increased, and as supervisors’ adherence to dominant Western values (i.e., self-enhancement values) increased. Taken together, these results advocate the need to study performance goals in their social plenum, that is, adopting an interpersonal (i.e., studying the effects of goals between individuals), positional (i.e., between individuals from different social positions), and ideological (i.e., between individuals following specific norms and endorsing specific values) perspective.
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Nicolas Sommet. A Picture of Performance Goals in the Social Plenum: The Interpersonal Antecedents and Consequences of Performance Goals. Psychology. Université de Lausanne, 2014. English. ⟨tel-01348955⟩

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