The important role of the context in which achievement goals are adopted: an experimental test

Moti Benita, Noa Shane, Orit Elgali, Guy Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Two experimental studies using Elliot, Murayama, and Pekrun’s (Journal of Educational Psychology 103(3):632–648, 2011) differentiation between self-goals and task-goals, were conducted to examine the relative influence of achievement goals and motivational contexts on behavioral and emotional engagement. In Study 1, 133 college students were prompted to adopt self-goals (intrapersonal standards) or other-goals (performance standards) in one of two motivational contexts (autonomy-supportive or autonomy-suppressive) while playing a computer game. In Study 2, 129 college students performed the same assignment, this time adopting either other-goals or task-goals (absolute standards). Study 1 indicated that autonomy-support facilitated behavioral and emotional engagement in autonomy suppressive contexts, but self-goals merely promoted emotional engagement relative to other-goals. Study 2 replicated Study 1’s findings by showing that autonomy support promoted self-reported behavioral engagement and task-goals promoted emotional engagement but further revealed that only when task-goals were adopted in an autonomy-supportive context did they promote better behavioral engagement than other-goals. Thus, Study 2 highlighted the importance of the context in which the achievement goals were adopted (i.e., autonomy-supportive versus suppressive) as an important determinant of the outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-195
Number of pages16
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Achievement goal theory
  • Autonomy support
  • Behavioral engagement
  • Emotional engagement
  • Goal complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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