Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 619–642 | Cite as

Different goals for different folks: a cross-cultural study of achievement goals across nine cultures

  • Ronnel B. KingEmail author
  • Dennis M. McInerney
  • Ramzi Nasser


Goals are important predictors of key educational outcomes. However, most of the research on goal theory has been conducted in Western societies. In this study we examine how different types of goals (mastery, performance, social, and extrinsic) derived from personal investment theory are associated with key learning outcomes across nine cultural groups. Adopting a universalist approach with regard to the role of culture on motivation, we found evidence for both cultural similarities and differences. In terms of cross-cultural similarities, we found that the four-factor goal structure was replicated and that mastery goal was associated with adaptive outcomes across most of the cultures examined. In terms of cross-cultural differences, we found that the association of performance, social, and extrinsic goals to valued educational outcomes varied as a function of context. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Personal investment theory Culture and motivation Social goal Extrinsic goal Achievement goal 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronnel B. King
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dennis M. McInerney
    • 2
  • Ramzi Nasser
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationTai PoHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Special Education and CounsellingThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationTai PoHong Kong
  3. 3.Dhofar UniversitySalalahOman

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