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A Review of Procedural Variations in Level of Aspiration Studies

Ricciuti, Henry N.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Subject/Key Words:
United States Air Force, Academic Aspiration, Aspiration, Personality Assessment, Personality Studies, Psychological Studies


This review surveys and summarizes in systematic form variations in the significant aspects of the experimental procedures utilized in most of the studies of level of aspiration reported in the literature since the initial work of Dembo and Hoppe. The principal differences in experimental procedure are summarized under the following headings: 1) types of tasks utilized (psychomotor, cognitive/non-verbal, cognitive/verbal, cognitive/arithmetic, college course work, athletic participation); 2) manner in which subjects indicate level of aspiration (statements regarding future performance, difficulty level of task selected); 3) type of information reported to subjects regarding performance (actual scores, prearranged fictitious scores, no information); 4) individual or group testing; 5) types of scores utilized (goal discrepancy, level of expressed aspiration, rigidity or flexibility of level of aspiration, changes in level of aspiration after success and failure, attainment discrepancy, judgment discrepancy, affective discrepancy, and patterns of response). Since this review is concerned mainly with procedure and methodology, no attempt is made to summarize the research results. A few of the chief types of problems which have been investigated in level of aspiration studies are indicated, however. These problems include the manner in which level of aspiration is influenced by 1) success and failure in the experimental task or in earlier experience, 2) the introduction of group standards or norms; and 3) individual personality characteristics. (JGL)

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