Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dennis Dossett

Second Advisor

Richard Wikoff

Third Advisor

Carl Greenberg


Locke’s (1968) theory of goal setting stipulates that specific, hard goals, if accepted, lead to better performance than do less difficult goals. Locke suggests that conscious intentions are the underlying determinants of performance. However, Locke was more concerned with testing the results of these conscious intentions (goals) than with understanding the cognitions and motivation behind them. While some research has begun to consider the motivational components of goal setting (e.g., Terborg, 1976) very little attention has been given to the factors which determine goal acceptance.

Recently, Mento, Cartledge, and Locke (1980) have suggested that Valence-Instrumentality-Expectancy (VIE) theory may provide a suitable method for predicting goal acceptance. While this theory may provide a means for predicting goal acceptance, it does not seem capable of fully explaining the phenomenon. The purpose of this study is to integrate research on cognitive evaluation theory (Deci, 1975) and on causal attributions (Weiner, Frieze, Kukla, Reed, Rest, § Rosenbaum, 1971), which suggests that attributions to locus of causality may have significant effects on levels of motivation for performing a task, with VIE theory in order to better understand the cognitive processes of goal acceptance and goal commitment.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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