Primary author: Genevie Karmo
Achievement Motivation

Many studies have associated achievement motivation as the key component in academic success and behavioral modification. Recent literature by Liu and Zhu (2009) noted J. W. Atkinson, a U.S. psychologist that observed the Achievement Motivation Theory (AMT), believed that achievement motivation is the motivation to seek achievement and prevent failure. Liu and Zhu referred to achievement motivation as an individual’s willingness to accomplish a task or goal that they deem significant in order to yield a positive outcome. Liu and Zhu addressed the importance of achievement motivation within personal and social realms. On a personal level, achievement motivation is described as a key for cognitive and self-efficacy development. On a society level, achievement motivation is crucial for economical, technological, and sociological augmentation (Liu & Zhu, 2009).
Achievement motivation principles can be applied to any sociological issues, particularly public health issues. For instance, achievement motivation can be utilized in attempts to prevent disease outbreak and reduce incidence of chronic illness. An example would be a case of a communicable disease; health professionals can motivate the public to take necessary precautions to avoid acquiring the disease and achieve optimal health. Unfortunately, there are many health models and interventions that do not take achievement motivation into account. Some health models briefly allude to the concept of motivation but do not emphasize its importance. Other models only focus on external constructs as the primary factors when dealing with public health issues. In a recent review, Noar, Andersman, Zimmerman, and Cupp (2004) evaluated several health behavior theories and aspects of the achievement motivation theory that would be essential in the design process of a school-based HIV prevention curriculum.
Noar et al. (2004) proposed that school-based HIV prevention programs (or any health related intervention) could be more effective in reducing risky behavior by employing achievement motivation constructs utilizing health behavior theories. They started by investigating the concepts of the Health Beliefs Model (HBM), Theory of Reason Action & Planned Behavior (TRA-TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), and the Trans-theoretical Model (TTM). Noar et al. mentioned four categories that are similar in each health behavior theory. Although implied, addressed, and measured differently, each health behavior theory contains some form of attitude, social norms, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions. These theories highlight causative factors of behavior and behavioral outcomes. The review also looks at constructs of the AMT. The three main theories in the AMT are expectancy-value, achievement goal orientation, and attribution. The expectancy-value suggests that the student understand the importance and values of the curriculum. Achievement goal orientation suggests that students can perform and master goals that are set within the curriculum. For example, always using a condom during sexual encounters is a goal that can be mastered if the outcome of performing this task is valued.
Noar et al. (2004) concluded that health behavioral theories are required to determine causative factors of risky health behavior but AMT constructs must be applied when delivering a curriculum in efforts to change behavior. In the instance of a health related curriculum, students must be motivated to value what they are learning, master certain skills, expect positive outcomes and receive positive feedback. Achievement motivations can enhance the process in which a curriculum is delivered and received. A sustainable change in behavior can be achieved in curriculum based health intervention design by employing achievement motivation principles.
Noar, S., Anderman, E., Zimmerman, R., & Cupp, P. (2004). Fostering Achievement Motivation in Health Education: Are We Applying Relevant Theory to School-Based HIV Prevention Programs?. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 16(4), 59-76. doi:10.1300/J056v16n04_04
Liu, Q., & Zhu, X. (2009). Investigation and Analysis on the Achievement Motivations of 278 Senior High School Students. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 1(1) 10-15