The Role of Feedback, Causal Attributions, and Self-Efficacy in Goal Revision

Adam P. Tolli, Aaron M. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


An important issue in work motivation is how, when, and why individuals revise their goals up or down over time. In the current study, the authors examine feedback, causal attributions, and self-efficacy in this process. Although self-efficacy has frequently been suggested as a key explanatory variable for goal revision, its role has yet to be directly evaluated. Additionally, although attributions have been shown to influence goal revision following failure, the extent to which attributions influence goal revision following success remains unclear. In the current study, the authors address these issues by experimentally manipulating goal progress via performance feedback and tracking the resulting changes in self-efficacy and goal revision over time. In so doing, the authors also address several interpretive ambiguities present in the existing research. Results support the hypothesized model, finding that performance feedback and attributions interactively influenced self-efficacy, which in turn influenced goal revision. These results suggest that interventions targeting attributions, and self-efficacy more directly, may have meaningful influences on goal setting and pursuit, particularly following feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-701
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2008


  • attributions
  • goal revision
  • goal-performance discrepancies
  • self-efficacy


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