An updated meta-analysis of the primed goal-organizational behaviour relationship

Gary P. Latham, Xiao Chen, Ronald F. Piccolo, Guy Itzchakov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environmental cues (e.g. achievement-related words and pictures) can prime/activate, in the absence of awareness, a mental representation of importance stored in memory. Chen et al.'s 2021 Applied Psychology: An International Review 70, 216-253. (doi:10.1111/apps.12239) meta-analysis revealed a moderate, significant overall effect for the goal priming-organizational behaviour relationship, with three moderators identified: context-specific versus a general prime, prime modality (i.e. visual versus linguistic) and experimental setting (field versus laboratory). An independent researcher found that their finding was negligibly affected by a publication bias. Shanks & Vadillo (2021), Royal Society Open Science 8, 210544. (doi:10.1098/rsos.210544) (field: k = 13, N = 683, d = 0.64), questioned Chen et al.'s conclusion regarding the effect size found in field studies (field: k = 8, N = 357, d = 0.68). In this paper, we discussed Shanks & Vadillo's selection of additional field experiments that led to their conclusion of a publication bias. We updated Chen et al.'s meta-analysis to include relevant studies conducted since that study's publication. The present meta-analysis reproduced the original findings in Chen et al. (field: k = 11, N = 534, d = 0.67). The updated findings are consistent with: (i) laboratory findings, (ii) the findings obtained in field experiments on consciously set goals and (iii) goal setting theory (Latham & Locke, 2018 In Handbook of industrial, work & organizational Psychology, vol. 1 (eds D Ones, N Anderson, C Viswesvaran, H Sinangil), pp. 103-124).

Original languageEnglish
Article number221494
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 12 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • goal-setting theory
  • meta-analysis
  • organizational behaviour
  • priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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