The current study was conducted to examine the effects of task complexity and task practice (trials) on the goal-performance relationship. Specific, difficult goal assignments were predicted to enhance performance on complex task only in later task practice. On a simpler task, specific, difficult goal assignments were predicted to enhance performance in early task practice and to disrupt performance in later task practice. The results indicated that goals exerted the predicted effects in the simple task version but had no effect in the complex task version. Possible relationships between amount of task practice and stages of skill acquisition are discussed for tasks differing in complexity. The results are also discussed in terms of cognitive resource demands and self-regulatory processes. Implications for the effectiveness of goals in relation to task complexity and task trials are also discussed.
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