What is Achievement Motivation?

This links personality with the degree of competitiveness shown by an individual. Its main focus is the extent to which an individual is motivated to attain success. Some Theories about it  Murray (1938) indicated that it was natural for individual to strive to surpass another (genetically) like trait. Bandura (1977) believed that a competitive drive was a product of learning (social learning). Atkinson and McCelland (1976) has the view of an interactionist and predicts achievement motivation is generated through a combination of personality and situation factors.

Atkinson and McCelland view of achievement motivation as a personality trait which is activated by a situation, the situation comprises the probability of success and the incentive value of success.

  • Probability of success;the extent to which success is likely;For example success is more likely of the task is found by the individual to be easy.
  • Incentive value of success;the incentive value experienced by the individual after success-been achieved. For example the harder the task the greater will be the incentive value because the probability of success is reduced.

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    There are two personality types to determine achievement motivation and these are;

1.High need to achieve (high Nach)

Linked with the low need to avoid failure (Low Naf). With these characteristic, desire to succeed overcomes the fear of failure. These performers=high in achievement motivation (high achievers) 2.Low need to achieve (Low Nach)

Also linked with high need to avoid failure (High Naf). These characteristics the fear of failure overcome the desire to success. These performers=low in achievement motivation (low achievers)

Characteristics of high and low achievement motivation personality traits.

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High Nach Personality Characteristics Low Nach personality characteristics
High need to achieve Low need to achieve
Low need to avoid failure High need to avoid failure
Approach behaviour is adopted Avoidance behaviour is adopted
Challenges is accepted Challenges is rejected
Risks are undertaken Risks are declined
Shows persistence and perseverance when task is difficult
Curtails effort when task is difficult Success tends to be attributed to external factors
Failure tends to be attributed to internal factors
Failure is seen as a route to success
Failure is seen as the route to further failure
Aspire to mastery orientation
Adopt learned helpessness

Key Terms

Approach behaviour-describes behaviour that accepts a challenge Avoidance behaviour-describes behaviour that rejects a challenge Attribution-The process that predict reasons for success or failure Mastery Orientation-The strong motive to succeed found in the high achievement. This type of person will expect to succeed but will persist when failure is experienced Learned helplessness-The belief that failure is inevitable and that the individual has no control over the factors that cause failure.

Atkinson and McCelland

Their theory of achievement motivation is best at predicting behavioural responses in situations where there is a 50/50 chance of success. This will trigger motivation for those performers with high achievement traits=likely to display approach behaviour and mastery orientation characteristics in these circumstances. Incentive value=high when chance is evenly balanced. In contrast to performers who show low achievement motivation would experience greatest anxiety in situations with a 50/50 chance of success— later adopt avoidance behaviour and experience learned helplessness. Approach or avoidance behaviours likely to arise when in a evaluative situation=Situation in which an individual believes they are being assessed.


1.Achievement or success can interpreted in many ways. Some performers regard success as victory over others. For example a long jump athlete winning an event. These people are said to have ego goal orientation. Those with this believe that ability and comparison over others=criteria for success. 2.Others judge on the basis of person improvement in a given task-For example a second long jump athlete may view success as the achievement of an improved performance. These people are said to have task orientation. Those with the task orientation value internal goals and believe that effort and comparison with self=criteria for success.

Sport Specific Achievement Motivation(Competitiveness)

Competitiveness in this context means- motivation to achieve in sport. Gill and Deeter (1988), using their own test called the ‘Sport Orientation Questionnaire’ (SOQ), confirmed that athletes were far more competitive than non-athletes. As as statement, this would appear obvious. Evidence of greater significance-athletes favoured performance goals (task orientation) while non-athletes emphasised the importance of winning (ego orientation) The type of goal set by the teacher as the measure of success in sport-related activities has, therefore, a significant influence upon the decision to adopt and sustain an active and healthy lifestyle. The important association between sport-specific motivation (competitiveness), confidence and goal setting.

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What is Achievement Motivation?. (2016, May 10). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/what-is-achievement-motivation-essay

What is Achievement Motivation?

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