Separation of Performance-Approach and Performance-Avoidance Achievement Goals: A Broader Analysis

Kou Murayama, Andrew J. Elliot, Shinji Yamagata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


In the literature on achievement goals, performance-approach goals (striving to do better than others) and performance-avoidance goals (striving to avoid doing worse than others) tend to exhibit a moderate to high correlation, raising questions about whether the 2 goals represent distinct constructs. In the current article, we sought to examine the separability of these 2 goals using a broad factor-analytic approach that attended to issues that have been overlooked or underexamined in prior research. Five studies provided strong evidence for the separation of these 2 goal constructs: Separation was observed not only with exploratory factor analysis across different age groups and countries (Studies 1a and 1b) but also with change analysis (Study 2), ipsative factor analysis (Study 3), within-person analysis (Study 4), and behavioral genetics analysis (Study 5). We conclude by discussing the implications of the present research for the achievement goal literature, as well as the psychological literature in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-256
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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