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Cognitive Orientation, Achievement Motivation Theory and Achievement Behavior USPHS

Kreitler, Hans; Kreitler, Shulamith
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Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
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Subject/Key Words:
Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry, United States Public Health Service (USPHS), Tel Aviv University, Academic Achievement, Behavior Patterns, Cognitive Processes, Motivation, Responses


Two hypotheses were experimentally tested here. The major and first hypothesis was that cognitive contents referring to achievement, as represented by beliefs along the four cognitive variables--norms, general beliefs, beliefs about self, and goals-- are related positively a) to the quantity and quality of performance in laboratory tasks under neutral, post-failure and post-success conditions; b) to preferences for attitudes and commitments to action reflecting achievement; and c) to long-term achievement behavior as reflected in relatively high grade-point average. The second hypothesis is that nAch (need for achievement) and TAQ (test anxiety questionnaire) scores, from achievement motive theory, would be related to at least some of the four cognitive contents variables. Subjects were 24 girls and 26 boys, 15-16 years old, in high school in Tel Aviv, Israel. Each subject was tested on three performance tasks, given a questionnaire designed to measure achievement attitudes, and a questionnaire of "cognitive orientation of achievement" and asked orally three questions about "commitments to action." Results showed that cognitive contents orienting towards achievement, when measured along the four specified dimensions, related to various achievement behaviors in a meaningful and predicted direction. In comparison with the achievement motive predictors, the cognitive contents variables were shown, first, to be related to a wider range of behavioral variables in two out of the three assessed domains, secondly, to be related to the same direction and sense to a variety of behaviors under a variety of conditions, and thirdly to be applicable to boys and girls equally.

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