Achievement Motivation Theory and a New Theory of Fear of Success

  • David Ward Tresemer


Neal Miller (1944, 1959) was influential in extending basic stimulusresponse (S-R) concepts to general psychological principles, especially in describing the overt behavior of animals with respect to an object which represented both a goal and a threat. The classic illustration of Miller’s model of conflicting gradients of approach and avoidance tendencies showed the approach tendency getting weaker and the avoidance tendency stronger as the object was closer to the organism. Thus the two tendencies crossed at some point away from the stimulus object. This explained how a goal might be approached and, on the verge of attainment, be rejected; again, if the sought-after goal could be labeled success, then the model described success avoidance. This work was instrumental in rejecting the popular Skinnerian view that inhibition was really only the modulation of approach in exact accord with the Law of Effect (see Schlosberg, 1937; and Herrnstein, 1970).


Achievement Motivation National Disease Subjective Success Public Success Success Avoidance 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

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  • David Ward Tresemer

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