Abstract Current models of goal setting often fail to consider the potential negative effects of goal programs. Control over goal difficulty levels may be an important source of personal control in the workplace and psychological reactance may result from a shift in control over the setting of goals. The present experiment examined the effects of initial goal origin (assigned or self-set) and shifted goal origin (shifted or not shifted) on goal acceptance and attainment over two trial blocks of a verbal task. Several hypotheses based on psychological reactance theory were tested in a laboratory experiment with 160 college undergraduates. Overall analyses revealed significant interactions for goal acceptance and goal attainment over trial blocks. Simple effect analyses isolated this interaction for both dependent variables in a disordinal crossover pattern for the shifted origin groups over trial blocks, as expected. The discussion focuses on fitting these results into the current program guiding goal-setting research and on suggesting future avenues of research. Some implications for the application of goal setting are also discussed.