The theory of achievement motivation revisited: The implications of inertial tendencies

William Revelle*, Edward J. Michaels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reviews the basic theory of achievement motivation as developed by J. W. Atkinson, and examines the implications of the inertial-tendency postulate. The classic theory of achievement motivation is found to be a special case of a more general theory relating task difficulty and number of trials to performance. It is shown that the inertial-tendency postulate implies an asymmetric, curvilinear relationship between task difficulty and effort, and that the degree of asymmetry is a function of the number of experimental trials and the consummatory value of failure. Experimental evidence previously viewed as contradicting the classic theory of achievement motivation is shown to be compatible with the general theory and to allow for estimation of the consummatory value of failure. Several predictions that allow for a direct test of the inertial-tendency postulate are derived. It is suggested that the general theory of achievement motivation is relevant to other theories concerned with the effects of success and failure on performance. (1 p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-404
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Review
Volume83
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1976

Keywords

  • review of J. W. Atkinson's achievement motivation theory & implication of inertial tendencies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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