What is the Achievement Motivation?

Achievement motivation refers to a person’s desire for significant accomplishment, mastery of skills, control, or high standards. It is a deeply rooted social motivation that propels individuals to pursue challenging goals, acquire knowledge, and develop skills.

Achievement motivation is not only a desire for success or recognition; it is a fundamental human need to master one’s environment and make a meaningful impact on the world.


“Achievement motivation is a stable disposition to strive for success in challenging situations.”- David McClelland

“Achievement motivation is a concern for excellence and a desire to master one’s environment.” – John Atkinson

“Achievement motivation is a drive to achieve goals that are personally important and challenging.” – Bernard Weiner

“Achievement motivation is a psychological construct that refers to the desire to strive for excellence and succeed in challenging tasks.” – Robert Gagné,

Atkinson’s Achievement Motivation Theory

David McClelland, a renowned psychologist, proposed a theory of achievement motivation that identifies four key factors:

  1. Need for Achievement (nAch): Individuals with a high nAch possess a strong desire to excel and outperform others. They are used by a sense of personal accomplishment and also used as satisfaction from mastering tasks and solving problems.
  2. Need for Power (nPow): Individuals with a high nPow seek influence and control over others. They are motivated by the desire to lead, make decisions, and assert their authority.
  3. Need for Affiliation (nAff): Individuals with a high nAff value social relationships and seek approval from others. They are motivated by the desire to belong, maintain harmony, and grow positive connections with others.

McClelland’s Elements of Achievement Behavior

McClelland and his colleagues further elaborated on the concept of achievement motivation by identifying four key elements of achievement behavior:

  1. Competition with a Standard of Excellence: Individuals with a high achievement drive set ambitious goals and constantly strive to exceed their own personal standards of performance.
  2. Affective Concern for Goal Attainment: Individuals are emotionally invested in achieving their goals and experience a sense of satisfaction when they succeed.
  3. Evaluation of Performance: Individuals regularly assess their progress and seek feedback to improve their performance.
  4. Standard for the Attainment of a Long-term Goal: Individuals set long-term goals that guide their actions and provide direction for their future endeavors.

Achievement Motivation Profile (AMP)

The Achievement Motivation Profile (AMP) is a self-report assessment tool that measures an individual’s motivation to achieve. It consists of 140 self-descriptive statements that are answered on a 5-point Likert scale. The AMP evaluates an individual’s achievement motivation across three dimensions:

  1. Goal Setting: This dimension assesses an individual’s ability to set challenging yet attainable goals.
  2. Persistence: This dimension assesses an individual’s ability to persevere in the face of obstacles and setbacks.
  3. Confidence: This dimension assesses an individual’s belief in their own abilities to achieve success.

The AMP provides valuable insights into an individual’s achievement motivation, which can be used to inform personal development, career planning, and educational interventions.

Achievement motivation is a complex and multifaceted construct that basically used for individuals to get excellence, acquire knowledge, and make meaningful contributions to the world. By knowing the factors that influence achievement motivation. it can help individuals develop strategies to enhance their personal growth and success.

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