Aaron M Schmidt
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).