Drawing on social comparison theory, we explored the effects of the interaction between state goal orientation and directional social comparison on individuals' task performance. In most goal achievement situations, individuals are likely to perform in a social context, which warrants investigation of how the interplay between goal characteristics and surrounding social stimuli influences their performance. We conducted a state-based experiment with 162 undergraduate students, utilizing a 3 (state goal orientation: learning, prove performance, avoid performance) × 2 (social comparison: upward and downward) between-subjects design. When the learning goal orientation or the prove performance goal orientation were manipulated, individuals who had a comparison target performed better than did those who worked by themselves on the given task. In particular, when individuals with a learning goal orientation or a prove performance goal orientation had a downward comparison target their performance improved, whereas those with an avoid performance goal orientation performed better when they had an upward comparison target. Overall the findings explicate the joint roles of state goal orientation and social comparison in influencing task performance.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology