2
The Achievement Motive: How It Is Measured and Its Possible Economic Effects

The hypothesis that gave rise to the present study is that achievement motivation is in part responsible for economic growth. Such a statement sounds either untestable or trivial. What could be more obvious than that great achievements are motivated by strong desires to achieve on the part of at least some people in the culture? Is it really necessary to do research to prove such a point? Resolving such issues and giving real meaning to the hypothesis involves an explanation of how the modern psychologist looks at human motivation and, more particularly, of how he measures it. What precisely does the psychologist mean when he refers to "achievement motivation" or "the achievement motive"? The answer will first require a brief review of recent developments in the scientific study of human motivation.


Assessing Human Motives

At least from the time of Plato and the Bhagavad-Gītā, Western philosophers have tended to see reason and desire as two distinctly different elements in the human mind. There would be little point here in giving a history of the various ways in which the "desiring" element has been conceived in the last 2,000 years, but suffice it to say that it always represented a kind of "motivational force" often opposed to but ultimately controllable by reason. At about the dawn of modern scientific psychology, in the middle of the nineteenth century, the relationship between these two psychic elements took on a very specific meaning largely under the influence of Darwin and the wide interest he and others aroused in the theory of evolution. Man was conceived as an animal engaged in a struggle for survival with nature. It was an obvious corollary to assume that because man struggled he had a desire or wish to survive. Biologists and psychologists were quick to point out how such a desire was mechanically controlled by the organism, since unmet physiological needs ordinarily triggered certain danger signals which would irritate or disturb the organism until the needs were satisfied.

-36-

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The Achieving Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - Explaining Economic Growth 1
  • 2 - The Achievement Motive: How it is Measured and Its Possible Economic Effects 36
  • 3 - Achieving Societies in the Modern World 63
  • 4 - Achieving Societies in the Past 107
  • 5 - Other Psychological Factors in Economic Development 159
  • 6 - Entrepreneurial Behavior 205
  • 7 - Characteristics of Entrepreneurs 259
  • 8 - The Spirit of Hermes 301
  • 9 - Sources of N Achievement 336
  • 10 - Accelerating Economic Growth 391
  • References 439
  • Appendices 451
  • Appendix I 453
  • Appendix II 461
  • Appendix III 464
  • Appendix IV 475
  • Appendix V 488
  • Appendix VI 492
  • Appendix VII 494
  • List of Tables 499
  • Index 503
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