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Are mastery-avoidance achievement goals always detrimental? An adult development perspective


Senko, Corwin; Freund, Alexandra M (2015). Are mastery-avoidance achievement goals always detrimental? An adult development perspective. Motivation & Emotion, 39(4):477-488.

Abstract

Achievement goal research consistently reveals that mastery-avoidance goals (i.e., striving to avoid losses) are maladaptive, especially in comparison to mastery-approach goals (i.e., striving for gains). Nearly all of it has been done with children or young adults, however. Lifespan theories of motivation posit that people in late adulthood are more likely than young adults to strive toward maintenance and loss-prevention rather than gains, and also that they sometimes profit from pursuing those goals. Integrating the two approaches, this experiment compared young and older adults’ experience and performance on a laboratory task when pursuing either mastery-approach or mastery-avoidance goals. Results show that young adults perceived the mastery-approach goal to be more attainable and therefore felt less pressure, enjoyed the task more, and performed better with it, whereas older adults showed this pattern with the mastery-avoidance goal. This matching effect replicates recent research on adult development and has broader implications for achievement goal theory and avoidance motivation in general.

Abstract

Achievement goal research consistently reveals that mastery-avoidance goals (i.e., striving to avoid losses) are maladaptive, especially in comparison to mastery-approach goals (i.e., striving for gains). Nearly all of it has been done with children or young adults, however. Lifespan theories of motivation posit that people in late adulthood are more likely than young adults to strive toward maintenance and loss-prevention rather than gains, and also that they sometimes profit from pursuing those goals. Integrating the two approaches, this experiment compared young and older adults’ experience and performance on a laboratory task when pursuing either mastery-approach or mastery-avoidance goals. Results show that young adults perceived the mastery-approach goal to be more attainable and therefore felt less pressure, enjoyed the task more, and performed better with it, whereas older adults showed this pattern with the mastery-avoidance goal. This matching effect replicates recent research on adult development and has broader implications for achievement goal theory and avoidance motivation in general.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 University Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:01 Apr 2015 15:11
Last Modified:23 Nov 2017 10:36
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0146-7239
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-015-9474-1

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