Mastery Motivation in Early Childhood: Development, Measurement, and Social Processes

By David Messer | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Mastery motivation in ethnic minority groups

The sample case of Hispanics

Nancy A. Busch-Rossnagel, Maribel Vargas, Diana E. Knauf and Ruth Planos

The purpose of this chapter is to examine mastery motivation in ethnic minority groups and to place this work in the context of cross-cultural endeavours in psychology. The concept of mastery motivation described in this chapter is consistent with the notion of effectance motivation proposed by White (1959) and the operationalization of mastery motivation by Yarrow and his colleagues (cf. Yarrow and Messer 1983). Most of this work focused on Euro-American samples; exploration of the validity of the mastery motivation concept for subcultural groups was absent in the literature. Thus, our research was undertaken to adapt two measures of mastery motivation for use with Hispanic populations. The aims of the research were to examine the psychometric properties of the measures (particularly inter-rater reliability, internal consistency and test-retest stability) and to gather initial evidence regarding the validity of the measures for the Hispanic population.

Why Hispanic? Hispanics represent the most rapidly increasing minority population in the United States, and are projected to become the largest ethnic minority group by the year 2000. Hispanic is simply a label that identifies Americans who trace their familial background to a Spanish-speaking country. Groups of Hispanics, such as Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans or the more recent immigrants from Central and South America, have different demographic characteristics; what identifies them as a clear ethnic group is their cultural values. These include familism (Fitzpatrick 1987), collectivism and power distance (Hofstede 1980), and present-time orientation (Hall 1983). Because adherence to these cultural values cuts across ancestral background and is the key to self-identity as an Hispanic, Hispanics represent an opportunity to study subcultural influences in American society.

This chapter reports on our early work to explore mastery motivation in subcultural and cross-cultural samples of Hispanic Americans and Puerto Ricans. This research began with an etic or universal approach (Brislin 1976). That is, we took the construct of mastery motivation developed on Euro-American samples (Morgan, Harmon et al. 1990) and adapted

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