In the journal article entitled, The Effects of Proximal and Distal Goals on Performance on a Moderately Complex Task, the authors generally aimed to assess the potential of setting both proximal and distal goals in relation to the resulting productivity of an individual (Latham and Seijts, 1999). In order to accomplish the study, an appropriate methodology was designed and utilized.
Specifically, the researchers studied 34 individuals which were assigned to three main groups according to the goals present in their pursuit to make the most as an employee of a toy manufacturing firm. The three groups were classified according to the type of goals given; the first group had a “do your best” goal; the second group was given a specific difficult distal goal; and the third was assigned with proximal goals along with a specific difficult distal goal as well (Latham and Seijts, 1999).
The resulting earnings of those under study were processed through an analysis of variance between the values. In addition, to check the validity of their procedures, especially in terms of establishing a task that was perceived of relatively equal difficulty by those assessed, Latham and Seijts also conducted an analysis of variance regarding task complexity (Latham and Seijts, 1999).
Basically, the procedures resulted in two main findings, one of which has also been supported by past studies. For one, the researchers found out that in comparison with those that had a specific difficult distal goal, the individuals that were given a “do your best” goal did in fact gain more earnings; the other and more important finding was that upon having combined proximal and distal goals, individuals attained even higher earnings (Latham and Seijts, 1999).
It may be said that their findings are truly of importance since it presents the effectiveness of goal setting on a cognitive aspect rather than simply being a motivational tool, which also presents direct implications regarding training as it presents a possibility to enhance organization and efficiency in relation to task complexity.