It also highlighted that people weren't benefited at all when they shared their goals with someone they believed to be having a lower status.
"Contrary to what you may have heard, in most cases you get more benefit from sharing your goal than if you don't - as long as you share it with someone whose opinion you value," said lead author Howard Klein, professor of management and human resources at the Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.
The findings published in the Journal of 'Applied Psychology' also showed that people were motivated by sharing a goal with someone they thought had higher status because they cared about how that higher-status person would evaluate them.
"You don't want them to think less of you because you didn't attain your goal," Klein said.
In one study, the researchers found that working adults frequently do share their personal career goals and that their commitment to attaining those goals was higher when those goals were shared with someone higher in status.
In another study, 171 undergraduate students were seated at computers and told they had to move a slider on the screen to the number 50 as many times as possible within the allotted time.
After counting how many times they successfully did this, they had to do it again, but this time they were told to sit and write down a goal.
Researchers then informed participants that a lab assistant would come around and check on their goals. The same person always checked on the participants' goals - but there were two different versions of this assistant.
In some cases, the lab assistant was dressed in a suit and introduced himself as a doctoral-level student in the business school who was an expert on today's study topic.
For other participants, the same lab assistant dressed in casual clothing and introduced himself as a student at a local community college, who was working part-time at the business school. In this case, the students rated the assistant as lower in status than themselves.
The third group of participants didn't share their goals with the lab assistant.
Results showed that participants who shared their goals with the higher-status lab assistant reported that they were more committed to achieving the goal they set for themselves than were those who told the lower-status assistant.
And, in fact, those whose goals were seen by the higher-status assistant did perform better on the task than did the others.
Participants who shared their goal with the lower-status assistant performed no better than those who told no one about their goal.
"If you don't care about the opinion of whom you tell, it doesn't affect your desire to persist, which is really what the goal commitment is all about," said Klein.
A third similar study also asked participants about their "evaluation apprehension" -- how much they cared about what the lab assistant thought of them.
The results showed that participants who cared more about what the lab assistant thought of them were more committed to their goal and were more likely to achieve it.
Evaluation apprehension may be one key to why it helps to tell a higher-status person about your goals, Klein noted.
A final, more long-term study examined 292 college students over an entire semester. They set challenging grade goals at the beginning of and shared them.
As in other studies, the students who told higher-status people about their goal showed more goal commitment and were more likely to achieve their target grade than those who told lower-status people.