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Achievement Motivation

Nicholls' and Dweck's models for achievement motivation are each supported by considerable amounts of research. Which of these theories best describes how performers regulate motivation and achievement in a performance setting?




Nicholls' and Dweck's models for achievement motivation are each supported by considerable amounts of research. Which of these theories best describes how performers regulate motivation and achievement in a performance setting? Why? Which of these theories best addresses individual differences in performance? Why?


When we look at Nicholls Achievement Goal Theory, history shows us that he centered it around one's ability to perform (Nicholls, 1984). Although this very pointed approach can explain motivation at deep levels, one could argue that it is narrow-minded and leaves much on the table for further discussion. Ability, however subjective or concrete, is different for every individual. What is even more damning about this interpretation of goal achievement is that he further explained this theory of one's ability when compared to others (Nicholls, 1984). So an individual, therefore, would constantly be using others as a measuring stick for themselves. This lends toward weak results and weak scientific explanations, especially when the pool of peers are low performers.


“So an individual, therefore, would constantly be using others as a measuring stick for themselves. This lends toward weak results and weak scientific explanations, especially when the pool of peers are low performers.”

Dweck's Achievement Motivation Model was a bit more holistic in nature. Dreck not only focused on goals but tried to explain the different processes involved from achieving success or ultimately becoming a failure. The two primary tenets of this theory were mastery and helpless (Dweck & Leggett, 1988). According to this model, those who take the helpless approach inevitably are manifesting to the world that they have low ability. This is largely responsible for heightened levels of anxiety and the propensity for an individual to avoid challenging tasks. Those with a mastery approach, on the other hand, will actually look for challenging tasks in order to perfect their craft and ultimately heighten performance (Dweck & Leggett, 1988). Although both Nicholls and Dweck's achievement motivation theories address valid points, the best of the two theories is Dweck's. The reason why, is that it addresses more variables such as individual inclinations (namely two ends of a continuum) and how people process their of goals. Nicholls' model is too singular in approach and does not accurately explain achievement in talk totality.


References:

Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95(2), 256−273


Nicholls, J. G. (1984). Achievement motivation: Conceptions of ability, subjective experience, task choice, and performance. Psychological Review, 91(3), 328−346








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