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Chapter 7

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University of Toronto Scarborough

Chapter 7: Achievement  Mastery motive: inborn motives to explore, understand, and control one’s environment. The Concept of Achievement Motivation  Achievement motivation: their willingness to strive to succeed at challenging tasks and to meet high standards of accomplishment. The Motivational View of Achievement  Need for achievement (n Ach): McClelland’s depiction of achievement motivation as a learned motive to compete and to strive for success in situations in which one’s performance can be evaluated against some standard of excellence.  A person’s need for achievement is determined by counting the achievement- related statements that he or she includes in the four stories. A Behavioural View of Achievement  Children will show different strivings in different skill areas depending on the extent to which they value doing well in each area, and they expect to succeed and be recognized for their accomplishments.  Intrinsic orientation: a desire to achieve in order to satisfy one’s personal needs for competence or mastery.  Extrinsic orientation: a desire to achieve in order to earn external incentives such as grades, prizes, or the approval of others.  Children who are intrinsically oriented are more likely than those who are extrinsically oriented to prefer challenging problems over simpler ones and to view themselves as highly competent at schoolwork. Early Reactions to One’s Accomplishments: From Mastery to Self-Evaluation  High achievers as those who reliably evaluate their accomplishments against standards of excellence and will often try to outperform others when faced with new challenges.  Phase 1: Joy in mastery. Visibly pleased to master challenges, displaying the mastery motivation.  Phase 2: Approval seeking. Anticipate how others will evaluate their performances.  Phase 3: Use of standards. Began to react more independently to their successes and failures. Theories of Achievement Motivation and Achievement Behaviour Need Achievement Theories McClelland’s Theory of Achievement Motivation  McClelland and his colleagues viewed n Ach as a learned motive that, like all other complex social motives, is acquired on the basis of rewards and punishments that accompany certain kinds of behaviour. The Relationship between Achievement Motivation and Achievement Behaviour  People who express a strong desire to achieve on the McClelland fantasy measure of n Ach often do achieve at higher levels than those who test low in achievement motivation. The Achieving Society  McClelland’s cross-cultural data suggest that achievement motivation precedes economic growth and that a nation’s mean n Ach is a barometer of its future economic accomplishments. Problems with McClelland’s Approach  People who actually do accomplish a lot often differed from people who accomplish much less in their emotional reactions to achievement contexts: high achievers welcomed new challenges, whereas low achievers seemed to dread them. Atkinson’s Revision of Need Achievement Theory  Motive to achieve success (Ms) Atkinson’s term for the disposition describing one’s tendency to approach challenging tasks and take pride in mastering them; analogous to McClelland’s need for achievement.  Motive to avoid failure (Maf) Atkinson’s term for the disposition describing one’s tendency to shy away from challenging tasks so as to avoid the embarrassment of failing. Is it Worth Accomplishing? The Value of a Particular Goal  Achievement value: perceived value of attaining a particular goal should one strive to achieve it.  Achievement motivation is more likely to forecast noteworthy accomplishments when the goals one might attain are considered valuable or important. Can I Achieve? The Role of Expectancies in Achievement Behaviour  Achievement expectancies: cognitive expectations of succeeding or failing at a particular achievement-related activity.  Expectations of success and failure are a powerful determinant of achievement behaviour; children who expect to achieve usually do, whereas those who expect to fail may spend little time and effort pursuing goals they believe to be out of reach. Weiner’s Attribution Theory  Attributional theory of achievement that claims that a person’s achievement behaviour depends very critically on how he interprets prior successes and failures and on whether he thinks he can control these outcomes.  Causal attributions: conclusions drawn about the underlying causes of one’s own or another person’s behaviour.  Weiner argues that people are likely to attribute their successes or failures to any of four causes: (1) their ability (or lack thereof), (2) the amount of effort expended, (3) the difficulty (or easiness) of the task, or (4) the influence of luck (either good or bad).  Locus on control: personality dimension distinguishing people who assume that they are personally responsible for their life outcomes (internal locus) from those who believe that their outcomes depend more on circumstances beyond their control (external locus).  The more internal responses the child selects, the higher his internality score (internalizers do better). Contributions of “Stability” and “Locus of Control” Attributions to Future Achievement Behaviour  Outcomes attributed to stable causes lead to stronger expectancies than those attributed to unstable causes.  Judgments about the internality or externality of an outcome determine its value to the perceiver.  Successes are most valuable when attributed to internal causes that one can take credit for.  It is adaptive to attribute our successes to high ability, for this internal and stable attribution causes us to value what we have accomplished and leads us to expect that we can repeat our successes. Age Differences in Achievement-Related Attributions  Incremental view of ability: belief that one’s ability can be improved through increased effort and practice.  Entity view of ability: a perspective that ability is a fixed or stable trait that is not influences much by effort or practice. Dweck’s Learned Helplessness Theory  Mastery-oriented: tend to attribute success to their high ability but tend to externalize the blame for their failures or attribute them to unstable causes that they can easily overcome. 
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