Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

James P. Bliss

Committee Member

Ivan K. Ash

Committee Member

Jeffrey T. Hansberger


Goal orientation has been proposed to influence a number of training and work outcomes. However, results have been inconsistent and predicted relationships are weaker than anticipated (Payne, Youngcourt & Beaubien, 2007). Weak findings may be due to inconsistencies in how goal orientation is conceptualized and operationalized (DeShon & Gillespie, 2005; Grant & Dweck, 2003; Kaplan & Maehr, 2007). One such inconsistency is the treatment of goal orientation as a stable trait or a malleable state. Issues of state-versus-trait have long fueled the person-situation debate in personality psychology. Fleeson (2001) offered a solution for integrating the two theoretical perspectives called the density distribution approach. By incorporating Fleeson's approach with Latent Trait-State (LTS) covariance matrix models (Steyer, Ferring, & Schmitt, 1992) this study tested the hypothesis that goal orientation, whether measured as a general trait, a domain-specific trait, or state, is density distribution. In addition, LTS models were hypothesized to provide a better method for examining the predictive relationship between goal orientation and achievement-related performance in an academic setting. Results were generally supportive of the first set of hypotheses, but not the second. Theoretical and practical considerations are discussed.