The effects of different types of goal pursuit on experience and performance during a stressful social task.

Research paper by Thomas L TL Rodebaugh

Indexed on: 04 Oct '06Published on: 04 Oct '06Published in: Behaviour Research and Therapy


Researchers have recently suggested that anxiety research may benefit from the examination of motivational factors, such as the difference between approach and avoidance goals. This suggestion is consistent with the literature on self-regulation, which indicates that affect serves as feedback for goal pursuit, with anxiety primarily providing feedback regarding avoidance. However, no data are available on participant goals for a task that generates social anxiety. Data from 120 speech anxious participants who engaged in a public speaking task were used to test the following hypotheses: (1) avoidance goals would be more specific than approach goals; (2) goals regarding social anxiety would have a negative impact on public speaking experience and performance; and (3) participants would tend to organize approach and avoidance goals not as separate goals, but as opposite poles of the same overarching goal. Hypotheses (1) and (3) were fully supported and hypothesis (2) was partially supported. The results highlight the possibility that approach goals may be particularly important to anxiety reduction.