Goal orientations-the degree to which individuals are concerned with developing new skills, demonstrating already developed skills, and avoiding appearing foolish or incompetent-have been repeatedly shown to be important individual difference variables for performance across a range of contexts. In the current study, we identified perceptions of time pressure as a predictor of state goal orientations. Specifically, we posited that developing new skills may be conceived of as somewhat of a luxury-that is, mastery-oriented behaviors-are more likely to emerge when one is not under time pressure. On the other hand, when perceptions of time pressure increase, we expected individuals to be less willing to invest in development and instead to adopt more avoidant goals. Support for these predictions was found in a sample of undergraduate statistics students who were followed over the course of a 15-week academic semester. Specifically, perceptions of time pressure were negatively related to state mastery goal orientation and positively related to state performance-avoid goal orientation. Also, state goal orientations mediated the relationship between time pressure and performance. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our results for motivational theory as well as how organizations can use the current results to mitigate the potentially detrimental effects of time pressure on performance.
- Goal orientation
- Time pressure