Developing goal orientations conducive to learning and performance: An intervention study
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© 2018 The British Psychological Society Goal orientation is an important psychological attribute for employees, as it has been found to predict a wide range of work-related outcomes. Although goal orientation has been well-studied, little is known about the extent to which individuals’ stable, trait-like goal orientation can be changed and about whether some individuals are more likely than others to engage in such intrapersonal change. In this study, we examined an intervention program designed to change individuals’ trait-like goal orientation. The results from 132 full-time managers and professionals participating in a part-time MBA course revealed that, on average, participants’ performance-avoid orientation was lessened as a result of the intervention, while there was no overall change in learning orientation, perhaps due to ceiling effects. Furthermore, evidence showed individual variation in these changes. Drawing on adult attachment theory, we investigated and showed the critical role of facilitator support and individuals’ attachment styles in shaping intrapersonal changes in goal orientation. Facilitator support resulted in fostering greater positive change, particularly for individuals with high levels of anxious attachment. Implications are discussed in terms of advancing theories on personality change and goal orientation, as well as designing interventions to support the development of positive psychological attributes. Practitioner points: Individuals’ trait-level goal orientation can be changed through a purposefully designed intervention program. The program helps to significantly reduce participants’ performance-avoid orientation while maintaining their learning orientation. Greater support from program facilitators means greater change in participants’ goal orientation, especially for those with high attachment anxiety.
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