Impact of conceptions of ability on self-regulatory mechanisms and complex decision making

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989 Mar;56(3):407-15. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.56.3.407.


Tested the hypothesis that induced conceptions of ability as a stable entity or as an acquirable skill would affect self-regulatory mechanisms governing performance in a simulated organization. Ss served as managerial decision makers in which they had to match employees to subfunctions and to discover and apply managerial rules to achieve a difficult level of organizational performance. Those who performed the challenging managerial task under an entity conception of ability suffered a loss in perceived self-efficacy, lowered their organizational goals, and became less efficient in their analytic strategies. Ss who managed the organization under an acquirable skill conception of ability sustained their perceived self-efficacy, set challenging organizational goals, and used analytic strategies effectively. These divergences in self-regulatory factors were accompanied by substantial differences in organizational performance. Path analysis revealed that perceived self-efficacy had both a direct effect on organizational performance and an indirect effect through its influence on analytic strategies. Personal goals also affected organizational performance through the mediation of analytic strategies. The relation of prior organizational performance to subsequent performance was mediated entirely by the combined influence of the self-regulatory factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aptitude*
  • Decision Making, Organizational*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Self Concept*