A Theory of Motivation for Some Classroom Experiences

A Theory of Motivation for Some Classroom Experiences -...

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Journal of Educational Psychology 1979, Vol. 71, No. 1,3-25 A Theory of Motivation for Some Classroom Experiences Bernard Weiner University of California, Los Angeles A theory of motivation based upon attributions of causality for success and failure is offered. The heart of the theory consists of an identification of the dimensions of causality and the relation of these underlying properties of causes to psychological consequences. Three central causal dimensions have been discerned: stability, locus, and control; these dimensions, respectively, are linked with expectancy change, esteem-related emotions, and interperso- nal judgments. Within achievement-related contexts, this theory is pertinent to a diverse array of phenomena and topics, including self-esteem mainte- nance, achievement-change programs, reinforcement schedules, hopelessness, sources of emotion, helping, evaluation, and liking. The range of the theory is further demonstrated by applications to hyperactivity, mastery, parole deci- sions, loneliness and affiliation, and depression. It appears that a general theory of motivation is under development that has important implications for the understanding of classroom thought and behavior. The attributional approach to classroom motivation and experience has proven ex- ceedingly rich. In this article I examine the particular attributional path I have followed and document its richness by outlining a few of the empirical and theoretical relations that appear to be conclusive. The extensity of the theoretical network suggests that a general theory of motivation is under de- velopment; I also address the issue of theo- retical breadth here. Some of the thoughts expressed in this article have been voiced in previous reviews (Weiner, 1972,1974,1976). With each op- portunity to take stock of where we are, some ideas become more firmly fixed, others are discarded and new presumptions take their place, some earlier evidence grows in stature, and other prior data require reinterpreta- tion. There certainly is some advantage to the dictum of publish and perish, which al- lows one to convey his or her ideas in a single, self-contained, and final package. Like most others, however, I communicate my thoughts as they evolve, and prior ques- tionable truths give way to new, equally un- This article was written while the author was sup- ported by Grant MH 25687-04 from the National In- stitute of Mental Health. Requests for reprints should be sent to Bernard Weiner, Department of Psychology, University of Cal- ifornia, Los Angeles, California 90024. certain laws, while other notions remain unchanged. The Search for Causes A central assumption of attribution theory, which sets it apart from pleasure- pain theories of motivation, is that the search for understanding is the (or a) basic "spring of action."
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This note was uploaded on 03/10/2010 for the course EDUC 221 taught by Professor Lewis during the Spring '10 term at Dickinson.

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A Theory of Motivation for Some Classroom Experiences -...

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