chapter  9
Conceptions of Ability and Achievement Motivation: A Theory and its Implications for Education
ByJohn G. Nicholls
Pages 28

This chapter presents an informal outline of an integrative theory of achievement motivation. Achievement behavior is distinguished from other forms of behavior by its purpose, which is the development or demonstration of competence rather than incompetence. Each individual's states of achievement motivation can vary in quality or type as well as in strength. Three types or states of motivation can be distinguished: task-involvement, ego-involvement, and extrinsic involvement. Task-involvement, by focusing attention on what is accomplished through effort, should support continued learning and satisfaction with learning. The case for task-involvement is consistent with the Piagetian view of intellectual development. Piaget's concept of equilibration implies that intellectual development occurs when children sense inadequacies in their knowledge. Task-involvement can often be transformed to extrinsic involvement by the introduction of rewards or surveillance. Unrealistic aspirations are increased by ego-involvement.