Motivation and emotion/Book/2010/Achievement motivation

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Achievement motivation

Overview[edit | edit source]

The chapter introduces the topic of achievement motivation. First, a definition of achievement motivation will be given. Next, there will be discussion on the main areas of study in achievement motivation, including implicit and self-attributed motives. There will also be some discussion on the measures used, plus some interesting fields of study using achievement motivations, such as entrepreneurs versus managers and gender difference studies. At the conclusion of the chapter the reader will be made aware of the areas of surrounding achievement motivation.[explain?]

Achievement motivation[edit | edit source]

Thinking Ahead - achievement motivation can be developed. The need for achievement is an essential ingredient for entrepreneurial success (McClelland, 1965).

Achievement motivation is one type of motivation that helps to determine how and why an individual has behaved in a certain way. It investigates what gives some people “drive” and some don’t. This has lead to research and to the development of achievement motivation theory. The need for achievement has lead many researchers to investigate why and what makes people do and achieve different things. Many wanted to explain the factors involved in high and low achieving personalities. What emerged was not one theory or condition or behaviour, but that achievement motivation is best represented as a multidimensional construct (Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff & Buhner, 2010). In broad terms achievement motivation represents an important construct in understanding an individual’s motivation to work hard on tasks, provide creative solutions to problems, and assess risk and to control uncertainty (Ziegler et al.).

There have been a number of different theories developed about achievement motivation, such as Murray (1938), who described it as a trait-like characteristic influencing behaviour, specifically in relation to, excelling in a task and attaining a high standard, others theories include, goal theory and expectancy value theory. These all have strong elements of achievement motivation in them. However one model that has influenced a number of these theories has been the model of need for achievement (nAch) developed by David McClelland who along with Atkinson and Murray first defined the theory of “need for achievement”, including its constructs and variables. McClelland considered the need for achievement as fundamental to achievement motivation. McClelland saw the need for achievement (nAch) related to competing with one’s own performance norms. He distinguished between hope for success and fear of failure (Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Buhner, 2010).

McClellend stated that there were a number of variables that influenced a person’s ability to partake in a task, they include the difficulty of a task, the competition (rewards) and what he coined as entrepreneurship (Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Buhner, 2010). These three main influences determined whether a person would take on a task (whether it be school work, a sporting activity or a work situation) and also determined how successful the person would be at completing this task. This would, as Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Buhner (2010)comment depends on the behaviour of the individual, whether their fear of failure/success indicators would move them to complete and succeed in completing the task. This theory was one of the main reasons that achievement motivation was developed, to determine how and why these variables influenced a person’s behaviour.

Need for achievement[edit | edit source]

Achievement motivation refers to the tendency to set and work hard to meet personal standards and to attain goals within one’s social environment (Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Buhner, 2010). There are many facets of achievement motivation that different researchers have developed ie. Goal theory, achievement behaviour theory and approach/avoidance motivation theory. These theories have all tried to answer questions, such as “What motives people to achieve, to seek success, to do well? The investigation of this question for many started with research into child development and what factors influenced a child’s ability to complete and achieve succeed at different tasks (McClelland, 1965).

This initial research[factual?] highlighted three main areas of focus social influences (where children develop, what McClelland described as “achievement strivings”), cognitive influences (suggesting that some ways of thinking, such as perceptions of high ability, and high expectations influenced a child’s behaviour), and developmental influences (suggesting that achievement motivation is a struggle between approach and avoidance of achievement situations). (Hart, Stasson, Fulcher and Mahoney, 2001) source disputed. The research also highlighted what McClelland, among others found was that there was a struggle between wanting to succeed and the fear of failure. This struggle between attainment of success and avoidance of fear of failure influences whether someone will be oriented towards a high achieving behaviour or low achieving behaviour (Elliot and Church, 1997).

This struggle underlies two competence-relevant motives, the need for achievement and need to avoid failure (Elliot and Church, 1997). Elliot and Church, (1997) also point out that these motives can be considered non conscious and they are posited to energise, select and drive achievement motivation. It is this need for achievement motive that McClelland focused on and developed further. McClelland (1965)summarised that need for Achievement (nAch) influenced behaviour, as it was a nonconscious driver of achievement, similar to an individual’s need to eat (hunger) and to drink. He also predicted that achievement motives predicted long term behaviour trends (McClelland, 1965). McClelland (1965) further identified two major constructs within the need for achievement motive reflecting different aspects of achieving motives, they are implicit motives and self-attributed motives.

These two constructs have emerged from research on the need for achievement as research[factual?] showed there were two main areas of focus. Motives based on imaginative throughs and those based on self-reported desires or interests. While initial research, such as Murray (1938) assumed that these two motives were part of the one motive type, further research conducted by McClelland and others has helped to identify these as two separate constructs can be measured, tested and assessed to determine a number of different things (Elliot and Church, 1997), such whether an individual suits a certain occupation or whether such things as gender influence a person’s ability to achieve.

Implicit and self-attributed motives, while both aspects of achievement motivation, as McClelland, Koestner and Weinberger, (1989) suggest that the two measures of achievement motives were uncorrelated and their behaviour correlates were different. They also further suggest that these two measures should be distinguished separately in future research. This research lead McClelland to further develop the two constructs, explaining what aspects of achievement motivation they relate to and how to measure them.

Implicit and self-attributed motives[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Implicit motives[edit | edit source]

Implicit motives was the original major construct in need for achievement motive, it can be defined as a fantasy function, such as the nonsonscious needs that orient, select and organise behaviour (Pang and Schultheiss, 2005). This definition is similar to that for need for achievement (nAch) which is described as an almost animal like drive in a sense that it energises and selects behaviour (McClelland, Koestner and Weinberger, 1989)and argued that these implicit motives are considered to be a the major predictor of achievement behaviour. However for implicit motives to be considered a predictor there needs to be an incentive or event that triggers a reaction in a certain way. Pang and Schultheiss, (2005) describe this as motive incentives, these are the situations, such as work situations, school situations (ie exams, assignments) or other situations that require individuals to act in certain ways, such as achieving to receive a reward or to behaving to social expectations. These motive incentives play an important role in achievement motivation, Spangler (1992) proposes that if there are no achievement incentives, there is no reason to believe that people who are achievement oriented will not behave differently than those with low achievement levels. This leads to the suggestion that achievement motivation and behaviour is not only influenced by Implicit motives, but also is effected by different situations, or incentives individuals are presented with that it is the interaction between these implicit motives and incentives that activate an individual’s behaviour in an given situation.

These incentives and implicit motives are as McClelland (1985)indicates are developed by the individual and are important, and that implicit motives develop early in life as a result of early experiences to various incentives and are related to physiological processes such as norepinephrine and dopamine which support the proposition of implicit motives being an nonconscious process that directs behaviour (Spangler (1992).

As incentives are strongly related to achievement motives, McClelland, Koestner and Weinberger (1989) further defined them. They found a distinction between they determined as social and activity incentives. Activity incentives are the characteristics of the task, such as difficulty and work context can determine whether and how will an individual performs the tasks, regardless of the reward. Whereas social incentives, while not the activity itself, are the social expectations and/or rewards expected if the task is performed and performed, ie rewards, promotion, etc. These incentives are important as Spangler (1992)submits, achievement behaviour is an interactive effect of implicit motives and achievement incentives, meaning without the incentive there might not be a behavioural reaction.

Activity incentives are strongly related to implicit motiving behaviour. An individual high in implicit motives is influenced by activity incentives and in reinforced by performing the task itself and are a better at predicting behavioural trends over time. Spangler, (1992) reports that these spontaneous behavioural trends are operant in nature as they are nonconscious responses to situations. Research further suggests that implicit motives provide a general orientation and toward certain types of goals, but it is self-attributed motives that reflect social norms, which help to determine more clearly the areas in which these goals are to be accomplished. This has led to more research into the second construct, self-attributed motives.

Self-attributed motives[edit | edit source]

Self-attributed motives, are different the implicit motives. Self-Attributed motives have been classified as of value achievement (sanAch) or explicit achievement motives and can be described as the value or worth to individuals of specific achievement and are considered to predict responses to immediate and specific situations and choice of behaviour (McClelland and Watson, 1982). They are considered to be a conscious reaction and are part of an individual’s self-concept . They are usually developed later in life as well as from an understanding of social incentives and demands. They are considered more of an immediate reaction to a situation and can help to predict immediate behaviour and choice. (Hart, Stasson, Fulcher and Mahoney, 2001) source disputed

As self-attributed motives help determine what immediate direction and choice is made as to where an individual wishes to achieve. Self-attributed motives are considered respondent in nature as it is behaviour that is generated and controlled by the environment and known stimuli(McClelland, Koestner and Weinberger, 1989), highlighting the differences between the two motives. Self-Attributed motives like implicit motives are also influenced by incentives. For self-attributed motives it is the social incentives that have the most influence. Spangler, (1992) states that explicit motives and goals that drive an individual to achieve and to do well in some particular socially accepted domain, such a work situation or excelling in an exam at school.

While these two motives are separate constructs they do not work alone. There is still a strong theme that neither predicts achievement behaviour alone, that both are needed to define achievement motivation. As McClelland, Koestner and Weinberger, (1989) imply that implicit motives which provide the unconscious impulse to achieve and do something well, while the conscious self-attribute motive provides the immediate choice of which actual goals will be achieved (i.e. doing well in a school course or career success), which defines that particular areas in which this impulse will express itself. They further suggest that a measure of both types of motives improved prediction of performance over what either predicts alone. Meaning that implicit motives can show that an individual has a willingness or instinct to strive or do better, but it is the be self-attributed motives that are needed to show which direction that behaviour will be, or which task an individual will perform and why.

Measures of achievement motivations[edit | edit source]

There is no one measure of achievement motivation. As there are two main types of achievement motives, implicit and self-attributed motives, there are different types of measures for both. As implicit motives was the first motive to be defined the traditional way to measure achievement motivation is used. The first measures used is the Thematic Appreciation test (TAT), an example of this is a picture story exercise (PSE), while there are a number of different types, such as the IAT and DAMT (Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Buhner, 2010) the measure basically involves 1 to 5 different pictures are shown to participants and they are asked to write a “story” about or relating to that picture. The stories are then scored and assessed by experienced trained scorers using something such as “Writers Manual for Scoring Motive Imagery” (Winter 1994) or Smith, Atkinson and McClelland, who also developed a scale of scores to assess stories (Pang and Schultheiss, 2005). These scores determine the importance or dominance of different variables, such as achievement, power and affiliation.

Example of PSE/TAT[edit | edit source]

The PSE, to be reliable has to meet some main crucial points. As set out in (Pang and Schultheiss, 2005)

  1. Empirically derived scoring systems or ...
  2. Diverse picture stimuli, usually .....

example of PSE exercise

However, there has been criticism of using this method to measures achievement motivation, such as poor test-retest, internal consistency and reliability (Spangler, 1992). Much of this criticism relates to the issues of correlation as (Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Buhner, 2010) remark that fantasy based measures of achievement variables do not satisfy the psychometric requirements of a good measure, whereas questionnaires measures didThis has led to researchers using different measures for the two motives, as they further note that there seems to be a growing consensus that both are distinct motivational systems and need different measures.

As these two constructs are two different and distinct achievement motives, they should and need to be measures differently, as Spangler, (1992) argues that the dispositions measures by the TAT or PSE are implicit motive that are unconscious reactions and as self-attributed motives are not, they would not be measured in the same way. This means that a different measure is needed for self-attributed motives by this measure. Self-report questionnaire have been used to better measure self-atributed motives in a number of studie, such as Pang and Schultheiss (2005), McClelland, Koestner and Weingberger (1989) and Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Mahoney (2001)

Example of self-report questionnaire[edit | edit source]

Again there are a number of different types including:

These self-report questionnaires as Spangler(1992) comments, their research supports the distinction made by McClelland and associates that TAT’s and questionnaires appear to be measuring different aspects of personality. TAT measures nonconscious needs for achievement and other motives whereas questionnaires measure more conscious values of achievement. Using the two different measures can improve prediction or performance over using one or the other alone. As McClelland, Koestner and Weingberger (1989) observe implicit motives only predict general behaviour, it cannot give an indication of which area of life in which a person will strive, self-attributed motives and goals are also needs to show the direction in which the individual’s achievement motive will turn. This again is supported by MCClelland and others, such as Pang and Schultheiss (2005), McClelland, Koestner and Weingberger (1989) and Ziegler, Schmukle, Egloff and Mahoney (2001) who argue that the two constructs need to be measured separately, but used together to achieve a better prediction of an individual’s ability to achieve and in what situations they are likely to.

Entrepreneurs vs managers[edit | edit source]

How does all of this achievement motivation theory help define or determine whether a person is going to be a successful manager or entrepreneur. McClelland (1965) conducted a longitudinal study, looking at graduates 14 years after graduation, and found that significantly more of those originally scoring high in need for achievement where currently in entrepreneurial occupations. This supports the theory that there is a strong relationship between high need for achievement scores and “entrepreneurial” behaviour . What this highlights is that individuals with higher nAch are predisposed to seeking out positions entrepreneurial nature to achieve the satisfaction they are wanting.

These entrepreneurial positions include sales, real estate, owning a small business, consulting, etc and these positions usually involve initiating decisions, individual responsibility and entail more risk. They are commonly related to need for achievement and implicit motives. Whereas positions such as credit/personal manager, office managers positions are more likely to involve high self-control, maintaining systems and managing people are considered positions, associated with low need for achievement or sanAch and high need for power and affiliation (McClelland and Boyatsiz, 1982). Research has shown that individuals seeking these positions do not have a high nAch, and more likely to have a high need for power and are predisposed to positions that provide the ability to influence and manage.

These two types of occupations are quite different, while on the surface one would propose that to achieve success as a manager or entrepreneur an individual would need a high nAch. However McClelland and Boyatcis (1982) argue that while nAch leads to success in small business or sales, where people do most of the work themselves, this motivation should not be associated with managerial success, as people with high nAch are interested in how well they do personally, not in influencing other to do well which is a major focus for managerial success.

McClelland and Boyatzis (1982) study supported their theory as it found that was no significant pattern or relationship between managers, success or personality characteristics and nAch i.e managers with high nAch were no more successful that managers with low nAch, they further suggest that a manager with nPower, nAffiliation were better predictors of success than nAch, in a managerial position as these variables had more influence on an individual’s ability to succeed in a managerial role, than high need for achievement.

Are males and females different when it comes to achievement motivation?[edit | edit source]

As discussed previously there are differences between managers and entrepreneurs. The next point to consider,is, there gender differences as well. Much of the previous research has been conducted using mainly male participants, so the question, does achievement motivation mainly relate to males or do females also have the ability to be high nach and hence have entrepreneurial behaviour is something to be considered.

Is there a difference between men and women?

When Langon-fox and Relth (1995) investigated this very issue to find out whether female entrepreneurs have the same need for achievement as mean, they firstly point out that that studies of women entrepreneurs are almost non-existent. Their research found that there were three types of female entrepreneurs:

  1. need achiever
  2. pragmatic entrepreneur
  3. the managerial entrepreneur

What they also found was that there the innate need for achievement is essential to those high in need for Achievement and thought to have a general orientation toward certain types of goals. That this general orientation towards achieving goals was no different for females and males (Langan-Fox and Roth, 1995). They also found supporting evidence that female like male entrepreneurs were the need achiever type and had a high need for achievement and fitted into the “need for achievement’ type defined by McClelland. This was highlighted in the first type of entrepreneur they identified. The second was, the pragmatic type, which is a mix of moderate need for Achievement and value Achievement, and the third, the managerial type, was very similar to what McClelland (1965) defined as “managerial”, occupations, with low need for Achievement, high value Achievement and high locus of control and ability to influence/have power.

What this has shown is that there are not many differences between males and females, the difference lays more in the types of definitions/classifications of type of characteristics. This is also support by a study conducted by Pang and Schultheiss, (2005)as part of their research looked at more generally whether there are gender differences and they found that women were higher then men in naffiliation, but no difference in nAchievement scores. They suggest that the gender differences relate more to power and affiliation than need for achievement.

References[edit | edit source]

Elliot, A.J., & Church, M.A. (1997). A hierarchical Model of Approach and Avoidance Achievement Motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology No. 1, 218-232.

Hart, J.W., Stasson, M.F., Fulcher, K.H., Mahoney, J.M.(2008). Assessing Achievement Motivation as a Multi-Faceted Construct: Examining the Psychometric Properties of the Cassidy and Lynn Achievement Motivation Scale. Individual Differences Research, 6, 169-180.

Langan-Fox, J., & Roth, S. (1995). Achievement Motivation and female entrepreneurs Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology. 68 209-218.

McClelland, D.C.(1965). Achievement Motivation can Be Developed. Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec. 7

McClelland, D.C. & Boyatzis, R. E. (1982). Leadership Motive Pattern and Long-Term Success in Management. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 737-743.

McClelland, D.C. (1965). N Achievement and Entrepreneurship - A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 389-392.

McClelland, D.C., Koestner, R., & Weinberger, J. (1989). How Do Self-Attributed and Implicit Motives Differ?. Psychological Review, 96, 690-702

McClelland, D.C. (1985). How Motives, Skills, and Values Determine What People do. American Psychologist, 40, 812-825.

McClelland, D.C., & Watson, R.I. (). Power motivation and risk-taking behavior. , , .

Pang, J.S., & Schultheiss, O.C. (2005). Assessing Implicit Motives in U.S. College Students: Effects of Picture Type and Position, Gender and Ethnicity and Cross-Cultural Comparisons. Journal of Personality Assessment, 85, 280-294.

Spangler, W.D. (1992). Validity of Questionnaire and TAT measures of Need for Achievement: Two Meta-Analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 140-154.

Ziegler, M., Schmukle, S., Egloff, B., & Buhner, M. (2010). Investigatiing Measures of Achievement Motivation(s). Journal of Individual Differences, 31, 15-21