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Achievement Motives

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Achievement dispositions; Competence motives


Achievement motives are appetitive and aversive dispositions toward competence/incompetence.


The achievement motive construct was introduced by Harvard psychologist Henry Murray (1938) and systematically formalized in the 1950s by David McClelland, John Atkinson, and their colleagues (see McClelland et al. 1953). These theorists described motives as learned associations between environmental cues and resulting affective responses. These learned associations spawn anticipation of the affective responses, which subsequently prompt achievement behavior (McClelland et al. 1953; Murray 1938). Anticipatory emotions relevant to achievement motives include anticipatory pride and shame. Anticipatory pride and shame function as the basis for the two predominant achievement motives that have received attention in the literature – need for achievement and fear of failure (Atkinson and Feather 1966; McClelland et al. 1953)....


  • Achievement Motivation
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
  • Private Body Consciousness
  • Explicit Motivation
  • Family Orientation Questionnaire

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Correspondence to Emily J. Hangen .

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© 2016 Springer International Publishing AG

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Hangen, E.J., Elliott, A.J. (2016). Achievement Motives. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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