Higher and lower status individuals’ performance goals: The role of hierarchy stability.

Compared with lower status individuals, higher status individuals are particularly likely to endorse approach (vs. avoidance) forms of motivation–notably, performance-approach goals (e.g., seeking to demonstrate superior competence) rather than performance-avoidance goals (e.g., seeking not to demonstrate inferior competence). In the present paper, we argue that this effect is likely to occur when the hierarchy is stable (i.e., in contexts in which mobility is not expected). Conversely, in unstable systems, pursuing both performance-approach goals and performance-avoidance goals might become relevant strategies, regardless of status. In two studies, performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals were measured and status was manipulated. Perception of hierarchy stability was either measured (Study 1) or manipulated (Study 2). The results of both studies supported that the difference between higher and lower status individuals in terms of performance-based goal orientation only appeared in stable hierarchical systems, sustaining a view of performance-based goals as dynamic processes resulting from the position one occupies in a hierarchical system. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)