Are Men More Goal-Oriented Than Women?


New research suggests that men are more likely to achieve goals in the workplace than women.

Researchers at the University of Leicester said their new study suggests that men are more motivated by achieving goals than women. They also found that goal-setting can generate the same effects on success as monetary incentives and that having a goal leads to better focus and increased speed to complete a task.

"The focus of this research was to determine how to motivate people. When we are given a goal, we feel a sense of purpose to achieve it; it naturally helps to focus us. The findings demonstrate that setting a goal induces higher effort," Samuel Smithers, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

For the study, more than 100 volunteers completed a simple addition task summing up sets of five two-digit, randomly drawn numbers over five minutes in one of three groups:

  1. Control - no goal was given
  2. Low goal - to achieve 10 correct answers
  3. High goal - to achieve 15 correct answers

Researchers found that within the two goal groups scored more correct answers, attempted more questions and had greater accuracy during the tests. However, there was no significant difference between the two goal groups, showing that having a goal is more important than the specific value of the goal.

"My research found that women perform better than men in the no goal setting, but men thrive in both of the goal treatments, suggesting that men are more responsive to goals than women. I also found a 20 percent and 35 percent increase in correct number of additions for the medium and challenging goal groups over the control group," Smithers said. "This is an incredible increase in output without the need for extra monetary incentives. The increase was due to an increase in both the speed and accuracy of the participants in the goal groups."

The findings are detailed in the journal Economic Letters.

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