Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Jim Thomas
The empirical literature suggests that subgoals may have an effect upon feelings of task-related stress which is more intense than the effect of distal goals on this variable. First, subgoals my alter an individual's perception of the task in such a way that the task related goal is not seen as being so overwhelming. Second, there is an increased feedback mechanism associated with subgoals that may alter perceptions of situational mastery and control and in turn perceptions of situational stress. The effect of receiving more frequent feedback is dependent upon the valence of the feedback. Specifically, positive feedback leads to an increase in perceptions of situational control and mastery and therefore reduces feelings of situational stress. Negative feedback has the opposite effect. The relationship between subgoals and perceptions of mastery had been investigated; however, the suggested connections between subgoals, control, and stress had not. In order to investigate these possible effects, subjects were divided into six goal type by feedback type conditions. Each group was asked to participate in a timed arithmetic test for which they had been given four, five minute goals, one, 20 minute goal, or no goals. The goals were manipulated so that some groups received consistent negative feedback, some groups received consistent positive feedback, and some groups received no feedback. After the test, subjects were asked to fill out several self-report measures assessing perceptions of situational control, mastery, and feelings of task related stress. It was hypothesized that those subjects in the positive feedback condition would have scores on the mastery and control measures that were significantly higher, and scores on the stress measure that were significantly lower than the no-feedback condition subjects. The same differences were hypothesized between the scores on these measures for the no-feedback group and the negative feedback group. Further, it was hypothesized that those subjects in the positive feedback/subgoal groups would have scores on the mastery and control measures that were significantly higher, and scores on the stress measure that were significantly lower than the subjects in all other goal type/feedback type conditions. The results of this research confirm the hypotheses pertaining to the main effect of feedback on dependent variables. However, no significant differences were discovered due to the variable's interaction.
Kieffer, James E., "Using subgoals as a Mechanism for altering perceptions of situational control, mastery, and task-related stress" (1994). Student Work. 1315.