Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology


This thesis reports a revision of Atkinson's (1957,etc.) theory of achievement motivation undertaken in order to ensure that: all terms used were empirical in nature; relationships between terms uere more consistent with research findings; and the interaction of n Achievement with fear of failure uas expressed in terms of Maher's (1964) theory of conflict. Hypotheses derived from the revision: that in a game of skill median risk level chosen will be above .50 for the achievement oriented, below .50 for the failure oriented and above .50 but between the other groups for the intermediate; that mean degree of risk chosen by a group correlates with group mean achievement orientation; and that an achievement oriented group will choose a higher risk level than a failure oriented group; were tested using 84 first year University students in a situation allowing subjects to assess their objective probability of success at various levels of task difficulty and to choose an objective level of risk preferred for assessment of performance. Measuring n Achievement by the T.A.T. and fear of failure by the T.A.Q., the first two hypotheses were confirmed and the disconfirmation of the third was marginal and readily traceable to difficulties inherent in the procedure. A slope index substituted for the T.A.T. failed to replicate the findings and the two measures of n Achievement were found to be uncorrelated.