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People can feel Shame or Pride after Completing Goals

Update Date: Dec 02, 2013 02:47 PM EST

When people set goals and attempt to achieve them, the result could be either good or bad. For some people, accomplishing goals can boost self-confidence whereas for others, failing to attain a goal can be detrimental. In a new study, researchers were interested in seeing how goal completion contributed to the emotions of shame or pride. The researchers from Penn State in the United States and Australia's Central Queensland University found that the feelings of shame and pride are greatly affected by the individual's personal goal and the degree to which he or she achieved it.

"Pride is known to invoke a boost of confidence, persistence, and problem-solving ability, which can help people perform at their best," said Amanda Rebar, postdoctoral researcher, Central Queensland University. "If a baseball player is the first to strike out in a game, his shame may cause him to become distracted or to worry too much about his precise movements, both of which can hurt his performance."

For this study, Rebar worked with David Conroy, a professor of kinesiology at Penn State and recruited 58 undergraduate students. The students were instructed to play 24 rounds of the popular block-building game known as Tetris. Right before each round started, the participants were instructed on how to achieve points. There was a total of four different ways or criteria that participants could be instructed to get points. After each round, the participants were given feedback and they were asked to record their levels of shame and pride. The overall goal was to attain as many points as possible.

"Our research suggests that when your goal is to outperform others, your feelings of pride will be amplified when you succeed," Rebar said according to Medical Xpress. "But when your goal is to avoid being outperformed by others, your feelings of shame will be amplified when you fail."

Conroy added, "Our results suggest that a person's motivation and purpose regarding a task-whether that task is a video game, a race or an academic exam-impacts the amount of pride or shame he or she will experience in response to success or failure. And the amount of pride or shame a person feels can influence whether he or she will persist in the task or drop out."

The researchers stated that setting a goal and attempting to accomplish it could have either positive or negative effect. In order to curb the negative feelings of shame, the researchers recommended that people should focus on what they achieved in the end as opposed to what they lost.

The study was published in Sports, Exercise and Performance Psychology.

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