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Reevaluating the benefits of performance goals: the relation of goal type to optimal performance for musicians and athletes

Nathalie Lacaille, Natasha Whipple, Richard Koestner
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 20 Number 1: Page 11 (March 2005)

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Abstract: Recent educational research suggests that both mastery goals and performance-approach goals are beneficial for students, whereas performance-avoidance goals are harmful. The present study examined whether the same pattern of results would generalize to the domains of music and sports. High-level musicians and athletes reported their goals prior to a peak performance and a catastrophic performance. The results among athletes mirrored findings in the educational domain, with both mastery and performance-approach goals being associated with optimal functioning. The results among musicians, however, diverged in showing that performance goals were markedly more detrimental than mastery goals. It was also found that intrinsic goals associated with a focus on enjoyment were particularly helpful for musicians. Mediational analyses showed that musicians¿ greater vulnerability to performance-related anxiety accounted for the more damaging impact of performance goals. These findings suggest some possible danger in emphasizing any form of performance goal in domains such as music where performance-related anxiety is prevalent.

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