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Fear of failure and fear of success

Two dimensions of the same motive


Verbal leads were used to elicit TAT responses from 160 male and female high school seniors, under neutral and aroused conditions. These protocols were scored for fear of success (FOS) according to the 1973 revised scoring system developed by Horner, Tresemer, Berens, and Watson (Note 1) and also scored for fear of failure (FOF) according to the Hostile Press Scoring System developed by Birney, Burdick, and Teevan (1969). Significant positive correlations between the two motive scores were obtained under both neutral and aroused conditions. The lack of independence between the FOS and FOF scores reflects theoretical similarities in the definitions of the motives, as well as considerable overlap in the scoring systems. It was hypothesized that for those people (especially women) whose affiliative and achievement needs are interrelated, FOF and FOS may be nearly equivalent, since fear of social rejection thus becomes tantamount to fear of failure.

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Jackaway, R., Teevan, R. Fear of failure and fear of success. Sex Roles 2, 283–293 (1976).

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  • High School
  • Social Psychology
  • Scoring System
  • Significant Positive Correlation
  • High School Senior