When academic achievement is an obligation : perspectives from social-oriented achievement motivation
Tao, V. Y. K.
Date of Issue2013
College of Business (Nanyang Business School)
Asian students on average not only performed better than other ethnic groups as documented in multinational achievement tests, but also in general showed more negative emotions and test anxiety. We argued that this seemingly paradoxical achievement pattern was rooted in the endorsement of social-oriented achievement motivation (SOAM) among Asian students. Within SOAM, academic achievement is construed as an obligation to parents and significant others. This research tested if Chinese students endorsing SOAM would indeed show goal endorsement, emotions, and behavioral tendency that typify obligatory endeavors in academic settings. First, endorsing SOAM indeed was associated with viewing academic achievement as indicative of a person’s obligation (Study 1); the stronger the individuals held this link, the more they felt guilty and a failure when they met with academic setbacks (Study 2); endorsing SOAM was associated with experiencing anxiety in taking examination (test anxiety; Studies 4 and 5) and feeling agitated (guilt, shame, and anxiety) in the face of setbacks (Studies 3 and 4), and associated with performance (demonstration and avoidance) goals (Studies 3, 4, and 5), achieving and surface approaches to learning (Studies 4 and 5). Finally, in comparison with those endorsing low SOAM, students endorsing high SOAM indeed spent more time and effort in studying and were also more likely to endorse performance demonstration goals and achieving approach to learning, and as a result achieved better actual examination performance (Study 5). These findings suggest that SOAM sets up a meaning system within which academic achievement is construed as an obligation.
Journal of cross-cultural psychology
© 2013 The Authors. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, published by SAGE Publications on behalf of The Authors. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022022113490072].