A test of Weiner's attribution theory inertial motivation hypothesis1

Authors

  • R. Michael Latta,

    1. Drake University
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    • 2

      Requests for reprints should be sent to R. Michael Latta, Psychology Department, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa 50311. The authors wish to express thanks to Donald Schuster, Leroy Wolins, Glenn Meeden, and Diane Latta for their assistance in conducting this research.

  • Richard L. Patten

    1. University of Minnesota
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    This article is based on a masters thesis by the first author done under the direction of the second author and submitted to the Psychology Department, Iowa State University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the M.S. degree.

Abstract

This study (N= 160 males) examined the cognitive and inertial motivation effects of overt success feedback on subjects high and low in resultant achievement motivation. The cognitive effects of overt success feedback were investigated by requesting attributions to effort, ability, luck, and task difficulty concerning performance on a digit symbol substitution task. The inertial motivation effects of overt success feedback were investigated through a transfer design. Results indicated overt success feedback to have an inertial motivation effect on performance efficiency at a subsequent verbal learning task. The results provided evidence against Weiner's (1972) attribution theory version of the inertial motivation hypothesis, and were interpreted within the general learning theory framework combined with the achievement and test anxiety models of Atkinson and Sarason. The interpretation offered considers the various experimental conditions as sources of motivation.

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