The role of attributions and affects for academic performance in the formation of future success expectations

Georgia Stephanou,  Technological Educational Institution,   Thessaloniki, Greece

Introduction  This study involves Weiner's attributional theory of achievement motivation and emotions, Bandura's self-efficacy thery, and Wigfield and Eccles's expectancy - value model of achievement motivation.

Method  This investigation, considering the importance attached to good performance, examined the role of: a) attributional dimensions for success and failure in Psychology examination and  b) the affects for these outcomes in the formation of future success expaectation.  The sample consisted of 120 Technological Institutional students (age from 20- 23 years, 63 successful, 57 unsuccessful).  All of the students, within ten minutes of the start of the Psychology examination, responded to the importance attached to performing well scale, whereas, immediately after the examination, they completed the affect scale, the intuitive appraisal scale, the attributions scale for the examination performance and the future success expectation scale.  The task was a part of the spring term examinations of the 1999-2000 academic year.  The importance attached to good performance was measured by the questions "How important is it for you to do a good performance in this Psychology exaimination?"  (1=not at all important to 7=very important).   Success Expectations were obtained through the question: "How well will you do on future psychology examinations?" (1=very poorly to 10=very well).  Intuitive apraisal was assessed by the question: "How good was your performance in this Psychology examination?"  (1= very poor to 10=very good).  Responses to 1, 2, 3, 4 points of the scale were perceived to reflect failure, while responses to 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 points of the scale were perceived to reflect success.  The modified CDSII (McAuley et al, 1992) allowed the students to indicate the most important factor that influenced their performance in Psychology examination and then to classify that cause along the causal dimensions of Locus of causality, Stability, Personal controllability and External controllability.  The Affect scale consisted of 12 affects for the performace in Psychology examination.

Results  The task was very important for the subjects.  Hierarchical regression analyses showed that: a) Both attributions and affects for success and failure were good predictors of future success expectations,   b) The attributional dimension of locus of causality, in comparison to any other attributional dimension, was the strongest predictor of future success expectations and   c) the affects rather than the attributions influenced the generation of future success expectations.

Discusiion and Conclusions  1) Both attributions and emotions influence the formation of future succes expectation.  2) The high importance of the task and the field nature of the task might have influenced the reported findings.  3) Teachers should orientate pupils to attribute negative outcomes to external, controllable and unstable causes rather than to internal, uncontrollable and stable factors.  4) Pupils should understand their emotional reactions to success and failure.  5) Teachers and trainers should be aware that the learned helplessness research and the attributional retrain research have developed treatments to help individuals to change maladaptive attributional patterns.  6) Further research should examine the antecedents, the nature and the consequences of attributions and affects.


Return to Abstracts Index