Difference Between Individuals With High And Low Achievement Motivation

low achievement motivation psychology

Achievement motivation in simple words is the will or desire of a person for some achievement. There have been numerous definitions given by theorists all around for achievement motivation but when simplified they all refer to the need for achievement of an individual. There have also been lots of studies around traits of high achieving individuals and low achievement individuals. The difference between such traits is mentioned in the article

Motivational orientation

People with high achievement motivation have greater motivation to achieve success, they are more motivated towards their goals instead of low achievers who have great motivation to avoid failure which means that a low achievement individual focuses on shame or judging that may come if he fails and a high achievement individual focuses on pride which may come from success. High achievers are likely to be more successful because they end up making more efforts towards their goals


A close up of a persons hand

A person with high achievement motivation will believe that success is the result of internal factors and is in control of one’s hand whereas failure is the result of external factors but a low achievement individual believes that success is more dependent on external factors and failure results from internal factors. This is the reason low achievers tend to have low confidence because they will always attribute their success towards factors like luck and failure on their hard work or ability.

Goal and Task selection

Low achievement individuals will pick up the goals that are outcome-oriented which generally are not achievable for example a student may suddenly give himself a goal of getting the best grades in class which in most cases would not be achieved him whereas a high achievement individual will pick goals that are task-oriented like beating his previous high score in a test. This selection of goals is directly related to a self-fulfilling prophecy, a low achiever believes that he will always fail so he picks up a goal beyond his capabilities and fails eventually proving it to himself


It is clearly evident that high achievement individuals will perform better in most situations and especially in evaluative conditions where they will try to prove themselves whereas a low achievement individual will perform badly in evaluative conditions and would avoid challenges all his life.


Achievement motivation is a key factor that decides how a person will perform in different situations and eventually decides how successful a person will be in life. Achievement motivation develops from a young age, parent interaction and classroom interaction of child will decide his achievement motivation in most cases which is why parents should be aware of it and work towards building a healthy relationship with the child as well as lookout on his friend circle at each stage of life.

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