All of us probably have succeeded at something
and probably failed at other things.
Do you know why you were successful at
one and failed at the other?
People’s explanation for success
and failure, and their beliefs about what caused what are attributions. (I didn’t write my paper because my computer
Explanations of what causes what vary among
individuals. Consequently, it is important to know that attributes are as much
a function of people’s Perception as of Reality. For example, you
might blame bad grades on the teachers poor teaching methods, when in reality it could be the results of poor study habits.
“WHEN LOOKING FOR FAULTS USE A MIRROR
NOT A TELESCOPE”
OF ATTRIBUTIONS pg 486
Attributes influence various aspects of
our behavior. They affect
Emotional reaction to success or failure
Expectations for future success or failure
Effort and persistence
Let’s look at these aspects individually:
Reaction to Success or Failure:
Individuals are generally happy when they
succeed at something. But what causes a person to be proud at an accomplishment.
Individuals might be “grateful”
rather than “proud” when they accomplish something due to the actions or assistance of another person.
However, individuals feel proud “only” when they can attribute success to something they themselves have
Likewise, people feel a certain amount
of sadness after a failure. When they believe their failure is due to others
they are likely to feel angry and resentful.
When they believe their failure is due
to their own lack of ability or effort, they feel guilty or ashamed
for future Success or Failure:
When people attribute their success and
failure to stable factors, they will expect their future performance to be similar to their current performance. In this sense, success leads to an anticipation of future success, and failure breeds an expectation of
When people believe that their failures
are due to their own lack of effort….. that they do have the ability to succeed if they try hard enough….they
are likely to exert more effort in future situations and to persist in the face
of difficulty. When they instead attribute failure to a lack of innate ability
(they couldn’t do it even if they tried), they give up easily and sometimes cannot even perform tasks they have previously
As you might expect, individuals whose
attributions lead them to expect success in a particular subject area are more likely to pursue that area. Individuals who believe their chances for future success in an activity are slim will avoid that activity
whenever they can. And when people don’t continue to pursue an activity,
they can’t possibly get better at it.
INFLUENCING THE DEVELOPMENT OF ATTRIBUTIONS
Researchers have identified at least five
variables that influence the development of different attributions for success or failure. The five variables are:
Past Successes and Failures
Reinforcement and Punishment
Successes and Failures
Individuals who have succeeded at something
tend to attribute the success to themselves and their failures to something outside of themselves.
When successes are reinforced and failures
are not punished, individuals are likely to attribute cause to themselves. Conversely,
individuals are more likely to attribute causes to something or someone else when failures are punished and successes are
(In other words, people are more likely
to accept responsibility for their failures if others don’t make a big deal of them).
performance of others provide cues: Failure is likely to be attributed to task
difficulty if everyone else is failing, Where as, it is more likely to be attributed to oneself if others are succeeding.
Other people communicate their beliefs
about an individual’s ability. Generally, teachers expectation of students
are based on the students past performance. Generally Students perform up to
the level of teacher expectations.
Other individuals may also communicate
their attributions indirectly through the things they say and do. For example
teachers criticize and express anger about students’ performance, they convey the message that students have sufficient
ability to master the task and simply aren’t trying hard enough.
- But when teachers express pity for the same performance, they communicate their belief that students’ low ability
is the reason for their failure.
Other Cognitive factors which affect Motivation
in this Chapter include:
COMPETENCE AND SELF DETERMINATION
EFFECTS OF CHALLENGE AND COMPETITION
PROMOTING COGNITIONS THAT MOTIVATE
know that motivation is important, because it is the impetus or drive that causes an individual to accomplish things. When a person loses their motivation, they become depressed and chances of success
in anything is more difficult to attain.
GOOD LUCK ON