Behavioral correlates of achievement need and achievement value



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The purpose of this study was (a) to cross-validate previous findings concerning behavioral correlates of n Ach and v Ach and to test McClelland's assumption that there is a fundamental difference between these two kinds of motivation; (b) to test the effects of the interaction of n Ach and v Ach on several behavioral variables; (c) to cross-validate previous findings of other measures in the study; (d) to test new hypotheses which have been suggested by the various measures used in this study but which have not been subjected to previous experimentation. The study was designed to test non-volunteer male subjects sequentially in two separate sessions alternately under relaxed and achievement-oriented conditions with measures of n Ach, v Ach and other behavioral variables. Since McClelland's theory stresses the importance of cue conditions as one of the determining factors in achievement motivation, experimental arousal of n Ach was carried out through the manipulation of situational cues. Under the achievement- oriented condition the subjects were given cues which were intended to arouse a strong desire to succeed or excel. In contrast, under the relaxed condition, cues that might be perceived as achievement-oriented were carefully minimized by the experimenter. The sample consisted of 64 non-volunteer male college students from general psychology courses. The age range was from 19 to 36 years, with a mean age of 26. The following tests were administered under the relaxed condition: Lowell's Scrambled Words test (short form), n Ach test (four pictures), Sheer Self-Concept test (perceived self sorting), v Ach test combined with the F-Scale. Biographical Inventory (Taylor MAS). Under the achievement-orientation condition, the following additional tests were given: Wechsler-Bellevue Vocabulary subtest, Lowell's Scrambled Words test (long form), n Ach test (four alternate pictures). Sheer Self-Concept test (ideal self sorting). The data were analyzed by computing Pearson and tetrachoric correlations, and chi-squares with the median of the distributions as the cutting point. Tests of the 30 hypotheses revealed predominantly negative results. No significant differences were found between the high and low scorers on n Ach in tests of rate of learning or performance, intelligence, anxiety or discrepancy between the perceived self and the ideal self. Significant relationships were found between subjects who have a high generalized need for achievement and the personality factors on the Sheer Self-Concept test of Social Adaptability (positive), Confident Self Expression (positive) and Conformity (negative). Significant positive relationships were found between v Ach and the personality factors on the Sheer Self-Concept test of Confident Self Expression and Inquiring Intellect. There was also a significant positive relationship between v Ach and conformity as measured on the F-Scale, and a tendency for v Ach to relate negatively with self-discrepancy. That is, subjects with high v Ach tended to reveal less discrepancy between the perceived self and the ideal self. No significant relationships were obtained between v Ach and rate of performance, intelligence, anxiety, and Conformity as measured by the SSCT. Most of these relationships were in a direction opposite to that predicted on the basis of previous findings in studies using the v Ach scale. No significant relationships were obtained between the interaction of n Ach and v Ach and other behavioral measures. A subsidiary part of the study involved the relationships between anxiety, authoritarianism and other behavioral variables. Anxiety was found to be significantly related to rate of performance, but not to intelligence, authoritarianism, Emotional Control or self-discrepancy. Authoritarianism was not found to relate significantly to Confident Self Expression, Inquiring Intellect, or Conformity. A low negative significant relationship was obtained between authoritarianism and intelligence. Further statistical analyses of the data revealed a significant relationship between intelligence and rates of performance and learning, intelligence and Inquiring Intellect, and a tendency for Inquiring Intellect to be related to self-discrepancy. The consistently non-significant results obtained with the n Ach test in this study indicate that, despite the considerable success previously achieved by the McClelland group in demonstrating its predictive value, a serious question may be raised as to whether the test as conventionally scored provides a reliable measure of strength of achievement need or for that matter, of anything else. Similarly, the consistent reversals in results obtained in testing hypotheses based upon McClelland's formulations concerning the rationale of the v Ach test raise a question as to the meaningfulness of this measure. A major proportion of the significant findings obtained involved either v Ach test results opposite to those hypothesized or results of a derived n Ach test measure—consistency of degree of n Ach strength under both 'relaxed' and 'aroused' experimental conditions. The significant behavioral correlations figuring in the v Ach test results corresponded rather closely with those of the latter measure, and also with those hypothesized but not verified for the results of the n Ach test. In addition to the present study, a number of other recent experiments by investigators, not identified with the McClelland group, have failed to verify hypotheses engendered by McClelland's theory of motivation. The results of these studies suggest that it might be profitable to re-examine not only the n Ach and v Ach tests as measuring operations but also much of the current conceptual interweaving within the theory itself (e.g., 'unconscious' versus 'conscious' achievement needs, internal versus external standards of excellence, and early independence training as a basis for high n Ach.)



Achievement motivation