Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. A 35-year odyssey

Am Psychol. 2002 Sep;57(9):705-17. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.57.9.705.


The authors summarize 35 years of empirical research on goal-setting theory. They describe the core findings of the theory, the mechanisms by which goals operate, moderators of goal effects, the relation of goals and satisfaction, and the role of goals as mediators of incentives. The external validity and practical significance of goal-setting theory are explained, and new directions in goal-setting research are discussed. The relationships of goal setting to other theories are described as are the theory's limitations.

MeSH terms

  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Psychological Theory*