Are causal attributions causal? A path analysis of the cognitive model of achievement motivation

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Abstract

Tested the causal assumptions of B. Weiner's (1972, 1974, 1977) cognitive reinterpretation of the traditional theory of achievement motivation. Ss were 206 college students varying in resultant achievement motivation who experienced feelings of failure in a course test and chose to take the exam a second time under a mastery learning system. After feedback on first test performance, Ss made attributions for their initial failure, indicated degree of shame, and rated their expectancy for success on the second test opportunity. Treatment of this system of nonmanipulated variables by path analysis techniques provided little support for the contention that variations in expectancy and retest performance depend on attributions made for a previous failure. Affect depends in part on internal attributions, but in a direction opposite to predictions. An alternative interpretation of the role of cognitive attributions in the achievement process is explored. (63 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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