Age differences in achievement goals and motivational characteristics of work in an ageing workforce

Heike Heidemeier*, Ursula M. Staudinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Review article

13 Citations (Scopus)


This study reviews theory and results from developmental psychology to examine age differences in workplace achievement goals. We investigated whether goal level decreases with age and, by comparing the relative strength of different goals within individuals, we examined whether dominant achievement goals are related to age. In a large sample of employees (N=747), older workers' higher affective commitment and intrinsic motivation compensated for age-related decline in the importance of achievement goals. Whether learning-approach and learning-avoidance were dominant goals was not related to age but instead to skill level, affective commitment and intrinsically satisfying work. Dominant performance-approach goals were more common among males. Performance-avoidance was most likely to be a dominant goal among older males. Moreover, with age, performance-goal orientations had increasingly maladaptive consequences for self-efficacy and affect at work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-836
Number of pages28
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 2×2 achievement goals
  • affect at work
  • age differences
  • ageing workforce
  • goal orientation
  • self-efficacy for learning
  • work attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health (social science)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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