Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mereller, Richard J.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Education


Motivation (Psychology)


Purpose and Hypotheses. The general purpose of this study was to examine the effects of success and failure in the area of arithmetic as motivators to subsequent performance in the same discipline. Specifically, Miller's and Dollard's theory, which holds success (reward) and failure (punishment) to be equally effective as energizing stimuli, was investigated. The hypotheses involved in this study were as follows: (1) Academically successful students (Group A) will be more highly motivated by success than failure. (2) Academically unsuccessful students (Group 3) will be more highly motivated by failure than by success. (3) For children, who succeed and fall in varying degrees (Group C) the null hypothesis of no statistically significant differences between groups is postulated. (4) The null hypothesis likewise is postulated for all groups when combined. Subjects. To the previously stated end, five fifth- grade classes, totaling one hundred and seventeen children were selected for study. The classes studied were located in three separate schools of varying socio-economic background. All schools were located in a town in the suburbs of Chicago. Procedure. The subjects were given short two-minute math tests. They were then arbitrarily informed that they had "passed" or "failed." Subsequent to this the testees were given a 5-minute test involving only addition problems. Immediately following this, the total procedure was again carried out. This time, however, those who "passed" were told they had "failed," and those who "failed" were informed that they had "passed." The criterion of motivated behavior was determined by the number of addition problems completed on each of the 5-minute tests following "success" and "failure." These were then analyzed by means of a t-test with the statistical significance level set at .05.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [45]-48)


48 pages




Northern Illinois University

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