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Achievement motivation or the need for achievementis the psychological drive to excel, a social form of motivation to perform at a high level of competence. It is sometimes abbreviated to N Ach or nAch. Usually this is understood to mean competing in socially valued activities where achievement can be recognised and given appropriate recognition either by the group of internally by the performer.

The term need for achievement was first introduced by Henry Murray in 1938 in his book "Explorations of Personality" where he used it in the sense of overcoming obstacles or being regularly willing to take on difficult tasks. The term achievement motivation has been the preferred term more recently.

Active researchers in the area include David McClelland

According to Atkinson and Feather(1966) the achievement motive is conceived as a latest disposition which is manifested in overt striving only when the individual perceives performance as instrumental to a sense of personal accomplishment.

According to Irving Sarnoff (Mangal, 1989) Achievement motive is defined in terms of the way an individual orients himself towards objects or conditions that he does not possess. if he values those objects and conditions, and he feels that ought to possess them he may be regarded as having an achievement motive.

Assessment of achievement motivation

This has traditionally been assessed by use of projective tests such as the Thematic Apperception Test.

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts


McClelland, D. C., Atkinson. J. W, Clark, R. and Lowell, F. L. (1953) The Achievement Motive. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.


  • Collins, J.L. (1982) Self-efficacy and ability in achievement behavior. Cited in A. Bandura (1989) Perceived self-agency in the exercise of personal agency, Psychologist 2(10): 411-24.
  • Dweck, C.S. and Elliott, E.S. (1983) Achievement motivation. In: P.H. Mussen (ed.) Handbook of Child Psychology, vol. IV, 4th edn, New York: John Wiley.
  • Rosen, B.C. and d'Andrade, R. (1959) The psychosocial origins of achievement motivation, Sociometry 22: 185-218.
  • Sagie. A.. Elizur, D. and Yamauchi. H. ( I996) The structure and strength of achievement

motivation: A crosscultural comparison, Journal of Organizational Behavior. 17(5). 431-44.

  • Winterbottom, M. (1953) The sources of achievement motivation in mothers' attitudes towards independence training. In: D. McClelland et at. (eds) The Achievement Motive, New York: AppletonCentury-Crofts.

Additional material



External links

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