Performance-approach goals: Good for what, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost?

Carol Midgley, Avi Kaplan, Michael Middleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

847 Scopus citations


Some researchers have called for a reconceptualization of goal theory that acknowledges the positive effects of performance-approach goals. The authors of the present article review studies that indicate that performance-approach goals are associated with adaptive patterns of learning but note that, in other studies, these goals have been unrelated or negatively related to the same outcomes. There is a need to consider for whom and under what circumstances performance goals are good. There is some evidence that performance-approach goals are more facilitative for boys than for girls, for older students than for younger students, in competitive learning environments, and if mastery goals are also espoused. The authors describe the cost of performance-approach goals in terms of the use of avoidance strategies, cheating, and reluctance to cooperate with peers. They conclude that the suggested reconceptualization of goal theory is not warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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