You are on page 1of 18

Achievement Motivation


Aims for today:

To understand what achievement motivation is. To gain knowledge of McClelland and Atkinsons model of achievement motivation. To be aware of sport-specific achievement motivation (competitiveness).


I would give half my life to play tennis like Roger Federer.

Thats exactly what he did!

What would you be?

An achievement situation?
This is one in which someone expects their performance to be evaluated. In sport this is most commonly referred to as competition.

So what is achievement motivation?

the athletes predisposition to approach or avoid a competitive situation. This is much more than getting motivated for a one off event. is the fundamental, internal drive that motivates athletes to commit a large proportion of their lives to achieve a particular goal. Cox, 1985

Achievement Motivation
Your motivation to do well in an achievement situation is referred to as achievement motivation. Therefore Sport specific achievement motivation = competitiveness.

Motivation revisited

Motivation = the desire to fulfil a need. It stems from the word motive, implying that it is learned nurture not nature.

Synoptic links Drive theory Hull, Spence, and other behaviourists.

McClelland-Atkinson model
Based upon the concept that motivation is generated through a combination of personality and situational factors. It focuses on: The motive to achieve success Fear of failure

You may see these referred to as: The need to achieve success (Nach) The need to avoid failure (Naf)

McClelland-Atkinson model
TAS: People with the tendency to approach success

High Nach

Low Naf

High Naf

Low Nach

TAF: People with the tendency to avoid failure

Success is judged against goals

Mastery/task goals associated with self improvement. Ego/ability goals comparison against rivals. Socially approved goals involve seeking social reinforcement as a measure of success.


These people are motivated to succeed and not worried about the possibility of failure. They are more competitive and tend to be stimulated by situations involving risk. They are more likely to accept challenges where the probability of success is low and perceive easy tasks to be too boring to attempt. Enjoy being evaluated on the basis of Ego/ability goals.


These people are scared of failure and as such lack a competitive edge. Hate being evaluated on Ego/ability goals as these might lower self-esteem. They are more likely to accept challenges where the probability of success is quite high or attempt tasks that are impossible because they might actually get credit for having a go against the odds (heroic failure)!

Think of situations where: a) You have been highly motivated to participate because they are difficult. b) You have not bothered to attempt because they are too easy.

What does it mean?

If an individuals self-confidence associated with performing a certain task is stronger than his/her fear of failing the task, he/she will approach and perform the task. Achievement Motivation = Intrinsic motivation cognitive state anxiety (worry caused by being in a certain situation)

Does it predict behaviour?

Again the answer is not really. There is much more to performance than just motivation. But Measuring achievement motivation will help to predict long-term patterns of motivation.

The Atkinson-McClelland model is best at predicting situations where there is a 50/50 chance of success. TAS enjoy a 50/50 challenge whereas TAF fear the failure so the 50/50 causes maximum stress.


Discuss the strategies a coach could use to ensure that performers experience high incentive values during every training session.