Aaron M Schmidt

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Dept of Psychology
N218 Elliott Hall

75 E River Rd


My primary research interests are in employee motivation/self-regulation, with associated interests in individual learning, and team training and performance. Three key aspects of my research program are discussed below.

Self-Regulation amidst Competing Demands

Despite the prevalence of competing demands in the workplace, the existing literature provides little insight into how individuals manage such goal conflicts. To address this gap, one stream of my research program has been devoted to understanding the complex issue of multiple-goal self-regulation. Much of my initial work (e.g., Schmidt & DeShon, 2007; Schmidt & Dolis, 2009; Schmidt, Dolis, & Tolli, 2009) has focused on elucidating key factors that influence the dynamic allocation of time and attention across competing demands, such as contextual features (e.g., deadlines, feedback, environmental volatility, incentive structures) and individual differences (e.g., goal orientation, regulatory focus, action-state orientation, polychronicity). Subsequent research seeks to apply these findings to understand real-world concerns, such as the handling of interruptions, procrastination, and safety-productivity tradeoffs.

Responses to (realized or anticipated) Successful Goal Pursuit

Research on motivation has generally emphasized reactions to adversity in goal pursuit, when successful attainment is in considerable doubt. Yet, it is also important to understand individuals' responses when the outlook for success is more promising. In particular, when things are going well, will individuals respond by maintaining or even increasing their efforts in the pursuit of further success, or slacken their efforts and "coast to the finish line?" Answers to these questions are critical for helping individuals and organizations achieve continuous improvement and the pitfalls of complacency.

As one example of research in this stream, Tolli and Schmidt (2008) found that individual differences in attributional styles influenced the extent to which individuals (1) aimed for further accomplishments following success and (2) lowered their ambitions following failure. Other research seeks to better understand the when, how, and why regarding the "negative self-efficacy effect," whereby increases in one's perceived abilities for a particular task can result in decreases in task performance (e.g., Schmidt & DeShon, 2009; Schmidt & DeShon, in press).

Applications of Self-Regulatory Theory to Individual and Team Training

A third stream of research applies self-regulatory principles to the learning process, particularly within training contexts characterized by a high degree of learner control. Although there are numerous practical and pedagogical benefits to providing learners with greater control over their own experiences during training, many learners make poor decisions in the process, often resulting in impaired learning. Thus, this stream of my research is dedicated to understanding and improving learner decisions in such training contexts (e.g., Schmidt & Ford, 2003). Finally, a related stream of research extends knowledge of self-regulation and learning processes to the team context to help foster more efficient and effective team learning and adaptive performance (e.g., DeShon, Kozlowski, Schmidt, Milner, & Wiechmann, 2004).

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Michigan State University, 2003.
  • Schmidt, A. M. & DeShon, R. P. (in press). The moderating effects of performance ambiguity on the relationship between self-efficacy and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology,
  • Schmidt, A. M. & DeShon, R. P. (2009). Prior performance and goal progress as moderators of the relationship between self-efficacy and performance. Human Performance, 22, 191-203.
  • Schmidt, A. M. & Dolis, C. M. (2009). Something's got to give: The effects of dual-goal difficulty, goal progress, and expectancies on resource allocation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 678-691.
  • Schmidt, A. M., Dolis, C. M., & Tolli, A. P. (2009). A matter of time: Individual differences, contextual dynamics, and goal progress effects on multiple-goal self-regulation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 692-709.
  • Tolli, A. P. & Schmidt, A. M. (2008). The role of feedback, causal attributions, and self-efficacy in goal revision. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 692-701.
  • Schmidt, A. M. & DeShon, R. P. (2007). What to do? The effects of discrepancies, incentives, and time on dynamic goal prioritization. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 928-941.
  • DeShon, R. P., Kozlowski, S. W. J., Schmidt, A. M., Milner, K. R., & Wiechmann, D. (2004). Multiple goal feedback effects on the regulation of individual and team performance in training. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 1035-1056.
  • Schmidt, A. M. & Ford, J. K. (2003). Learning within a learner control training environment: The interactive effects of goal orientation and metacognitive instruction on learning outcomes.. Personnel Psychology, 56, 405-429.