Just Do It: Remaining Task Focused When Performance Outcomes Loom Large
intrinsic motivation, achievement goal, performance goal, mastery goal, evaluation contingency
Plastering billboards, flashing across TV screens, and lettering sport cups and T-shirts, “Just Do It” has become a household phrase. Perhaps this slogan resonates with so many because it emphasizes the process of engaging in athletic activities, rather than any specific outcome or achievement. Excellence in sport is admirable, and many ads for sporting equipment and shoes try to link their products with athletic superstars who have achieved excellence. The “Just Do It” campaign is different, and seems to focus instead on the process of sport without concern for evaluative outcomes. Of course, performance evaluation is implicit in many of the activities we undertake, and it can be difficult to ignore the potential outcomes that are an integral part of these activities. For example, most athletes in competition are focused on success with the hopes of winning. However, we believe that something may be lost if the desired end state eclipses the steps taken to reach that end. Our discussion of performance evaluation will consider both the process of task engagement and the outcomes of task engagement, and we will discuss the implications of our model for performance and intrinsic motivation. In particular, we hope to consider how the quality of an individual’s experience is related to the quality of his or her performance under evaluation contingencies. By evaluation contingency, we refer to any social interaction that imposes or implies performance evaluation for an individual’s task performance (e.g., assigned goals, experimenter evaluation, competition).
Multiple Perspectives on the Effects of Evaluation on Performance: Toward an Integration