Twentieth Century Psychology: Recent Developments in Psychology

By Philip Lawrence Harriman | Go to book overview

INTERRELATIONS BETWEEN LEVELS OF ASPIRATION, PERFORMANCE, AND ESTIMATES OF PAST PERFORMANCE15

JAMES A. BAYTON1

Virginia State College


INTRODUCTION

The level of aspiration experiment was conceived by Hoppe (17) as a technique for studying dynamic psychological factors which operate in the production of feelings of success and failure. Hoppe's experiments were characterized by a certain degree of informality, the conclusions being based upon the subjects' spontaneous remarks concerning their reactions to the various situations, the manner in which they went at the tasks, and their statements relative to success or failure. The rationale of his approach was that feelings of success or failure would be aroused by discrepancies between aspiration and subsequent performance. If the performance was equal to or exceeded the level of aspiration, success-feelings were presumed to be aroused, whereas if the performance fell below the aspiration, failure-feelings were presumed to result.

An important product of the research by Hoppe was a description of the needs which operate in the determination of a given level of aspiration. A level of aspiration was pictured as the resultant of three forces or needs. First was the need to keep the level of aspiration high. Later workers, notably Gould (11),

____________________
1
The author wishes to express his indebtedness to Dr. Malcolm G. Preston under whose immediate direction this experiment was done, and to acknowledge the benefit of discussions with Dr. Francis W. Irwin and the general encouragement of Dr. Samuel W. Fernberger.

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