Comparing the effects of goal types in a walking session with healthy adults: Preliminary evidence for open goals in physical activity
Publication date: Available online 8 January 2019
Source: Psychology of Sport and Exercise
Author(s): Christian Swann, Andrew Hooper, Matthew J. Schweickle, Gregory Peoples, Judy Mullan, Daniel Hutto, Mark S. Allen, Stewart A. Vella
Goal-setting is one of the most common strategies used to increase physical activity. Current practice is often based on specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals. However, theory and research suggests that this approach may be problematic. Open goals (e.g., “see how well you can do”) have emerged as a possible alternative, but are yet to be tested experimentally in physically active tasks. In a walking-based session, this study aimed to experimentally compare the effects of open, SMART and do-your-best goals with a control condition on distance walked and psychological variables related to engagement.
Repeated measures design (mixed model).
Participants (N = 78; Mage = 55.88) were randomly assigned to one of four goal conditions: an open, SMART, or do-your-best goal, or a control condition (“walk at your normal pace”), before completing a baseline and two manipulated attempts of a 6-min walking test.
Open, SMART, and do-your-best goals achieved greater distance walked, and higher ratings of perceived exertion, than the control across both experimental attempts. Open and SMART goals led to greater enjoyment of the session. However, SMART goals led to higher pressure/tension, while open goals led to higher perceptions of performance and higher interest in repeating the session.
These findings provide preliminary evidence for the efficacy of setting open goals in physical activity, and suggest that they may be more psychologically adaptive to pursue than SMART or do-your-best goals. Implications are discussed, and recommendations are made for future goal-setting research in physical activity.
Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.
Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.