Toward An Understanding of Achievement-Related Conflicts in Women



The motive to avoid success is conceptualized within the framework of an expectancy-value theory of motivation. It is identified as an internal psychological representative of the dominant societal stereotype which views competence, independence, competition, and intellectual achievement as qualities basically inconsistent with femininity even though positively related to masculinity and mental health. The expectancy that success in achievement-related situations will be followed by negative consequences arouses fear of success in otherwise achievement-motivated women which then inhibits their performance and levels of aspiration. The incidence of fear of success is considered as a function of the age, sex, and educational and occupational level of subjects tested between 1964 and 1971. Impairment of the educational and interpersonal functioning of those high in fear of success is noted and consequences for both the individual and society are discussed.