Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Wayne Harrison

Second Advisor

Lisa Scherer

Third Advisor

Kenneth Deffenbacher


Research by Campion and Lord (1982) suggested that the goal-setting process could be explicated by a control systems model of self-regulated behavior. However, as noted by Campion and Lord (1982), the model did not specify the process performers used to select their standards. To address this deficiency and to further specify the control process, I proposed an expanded model of human performance: an integration of VIE theory (Vroom, 1964) and control systems theory (Carver & Scheier, 1981). The model posited that performers select standards of performance based on their motivational force. It also specified when cognitive or behavioral control responses would be applied and the direction of those responses. Further, it specified the temporal relation among control responses and the role of self-focus, a personality variable, in the control process. A test of six hypotheses derived from the model was conducted over a 15-week academic semester. The test employed a sample of two hundred and forty subjects enrolled in an introductory psychology course. The study found that when corrections were made for unreliability, motivational force accounted for over 77% of the variance in the choice of a performance standard. It also found that when the focal standard and performance were disparate and the motivational force of the focal standard was no longer sufficient to elicit performance consistent with the standard, that performers more frequently elected to change their focal standard. Further, it found that performers more frequently applied effort change to ameliorate performance standard disparities when the motivational force of the focal standard remained prepotent than when the motivational force of the focal standard degraded. In sum, this research did not prove to be an appropriate test of the hypothesized temporal relation among control responses, nor did it support the hypothesized role of self-focus in the control process. However, this research provides strong support for the integration of VIE and control theory. It found that performers select standards of performance based on their motivational force. Further, it advances the control theory perspective of the goal-setting and changing process by specifying when effort or standard changes are made and the direction of those changes.


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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