Self-Worth and College Achievement:
Motivational and Personality Correlates
Martin V. Covington Brent W. Roberts University of California at Berkeley
The world can be divided into two kinds of people: those who believe the world can be divided into two kinds, and those who do not.--Benchley
The tendency to categorize people is irresistible; so are attempts to define our uniqueness as individual human beings. This chapter addresses both preoccupations, especially as they relate to establishing individual and group differences among college students. Nowhere is the dictum, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts," more apt than when we try to describe the nature of human variation. The assumption that the whole (whether it be an individual student or a corporation) carries excess meaning not detectable in the separate parts presents a special challenge to those investigators wishing to provide a rational basis for understanding individual differences. First, they must ask what parts are important--in short, what are the most salient dimensions along which to categorize people? And, second, where is the individual person in this web of impersonal variables--in effect, what theories serve best as the conceptual glue that establishes the whole as contrasted to the mere sum of its parts?