Date of Graduation

Spring 2018


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Thomas Kane


self-set goals, task goal difficulty, perceived goal difficulty, breadth, commitment, self-efficacy

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology


This study contributed to an understanding of the goal setting process by investigating a variety of ways to evaluate the difficulty of short-term goals, including requested quantitative goals, different methods to rate the difficulty of self-defined goals, and the difficulty perceptions of the goal-setters themselves. To examine the validity of different goal-difficulty assessment strategies, I collected short-term academic goals from 116 freshman college students at the beginning of their first semester in college. I also collected antecedents of goal difficulty, such as prior performance and self-efficacy, and collected academic achievement at the conclusion of that semester. The validity of eight different measures of goal difficulty was examined through the examination of goal-difficulty measures with antecedents and academic performance. Correlations among goal-difficulty measures ranged from weak to strong. Patterns of correlations should encourage the future use of both quantitative goal measures and ratings of self-reported goals. Criterion GPA correlated most strongly with the GPA based assessments of goal difficulty. Goal-setters’ perceived difficulty of goals was not associated with predictors and criteria as goal-theory suggested. Applications, future research directions, and study limitations were discussed.


© Sidonia Christine Grozav

Open Access