Target size manipulations affect self-efficacy, success expectations, and processing durations but do not impact motivation and behavioural indices of performance and learning in dart-throwing


We evaluated if and how success perceptions, through target size manipulations, impacted learner expectancies, motivation, and behavioural outcomes in a dart-throwing task. This work was based on the OPTIMAL theory and predictions regarding moderating roles of expectations and efficacy on learning (potentially as a result of dopaminergic signals related to reward and reward prediction error). Novices (n = 29) were assigned to either a "Large-band" (horizontal target, 10 cm high) or "Small-band" (2 cm high) group for one session of practice (t = 90). The Small-band group took longer to plan and process feedback in pre- and post-throw periods respectively, and showed larger joint amplitudes early in practice compared to the Large-band group. As expected, the Large-band group made more hits and had heightened expectancies compared to the Small-band group. Remarkably, the Large-band group performed above their expectations more than the Small-band group even though their expectancies were already elevated by the manipulation. Despite enhanced expectancies and as such more unexpected success, the groups did not differ on motivation and behavioural indices of performance and learning. This research questions assumptions and results related to success-related manipulations for task performance.

Acknowledgments: Discovery research grant awarded to Hodges from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada