A test measuring your Motivation

motivationThe Achievement Motivation Inventory AMI (Schuler, Thornton, Frintrup & Mueller Hanson, 2004) is based on a new trait-oriented concept of Achievement Motivation that assumes it is build up of multiple interrelated components. Specifically, the Inventory employs 17 scales of measurement, 170 items total (each scale has ten items). The inventory is intended for use in work and employment context.

Accepting that achievement motivation is a personality construct, the authors of the AMI attempt to measure its different aspects that, expectedly, manifest themselves across situations. However, I am not convinced that achievement motivation is a rigid personality construct.

There is not much evidence to prove the theoretical background of the research and the inventory. People might be highly motivated in one situation, while uninterested in another. That is why the inventory could not be used in all situations with different populations. For example, it would not be a valid indicator of achievement motivation among students, who might be motivated in athletic performance, while not particularly involved in academic achievements. The opposite could be easily true, as well. Yet, an individual attending a job interview is expected to be interested in getting the position. In this scenario, the Achievement Motivation Inventory could accurately examine if the candidate scores high on certain dimensions of personality that are generally considered indicators of Achievement Motivation (Mental Measurement Yearbook).

One strength of the inventory is its multidimensional approach and multiple measurements. Instead of studying achievement motivation as a single universal personality construct, the authors view it as an intricate interplay of multiple aspects.

The inventory consists of 170 items that measure 17 different dimensions of Achievement Motivation. The items are presented in a Likert format, where the likert scale ranges from 1 (“does not apply at all”) to 7 (“applies fully to me”). The 17 dimensions that the authors use are: Compensatory effort, Competitiveness, Confidence in success, Dominance, Eagerness to learn, Engagement, Fearlessness, Flexibility, Flow, Goal Setting, Independence, Internality, Persistence, Preference for Difficult Tasks, Pride in productivity, Self-control and Status orientation. Each dimension is addressed by ten questions (Schuler, et.al., 2004). Scores can be quickly processed and plotted on a scale that signifies the relationship between dimensions, for each participant. In addition, the score profile can be immediately compared to percentile scores from a norm group from Germany and USA (N=2,178) (Mental Measurement Yearbook). The scores from the norm group are reported separately for males and females, which is necessary, because the relationship between gender and achievement motivation has not been studied.
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Based on the norm sample, the authors analyze the reliability and validity in the Inventory Booklet. The test has a sufficiently high reliability. Total score reliability is very high (.96) and internal consistency reliability for different subscales range from α=0.66 (on Independence scale) to α=0.83 (on Confidence in Success and Preference for Difficult Tasks). Yet, it is important to keep in mind that the total score is not of much importance. The complete profile of a participant could give a better understanding when examined by a psychologist or the test administrator, who is familiar with the variety of dimensions and their relationship. Only three out of the 17 subscales had an internal consistency estimates less than α=0.70: Goal Setting α=0.69, Independence α=0.66 and Internality α=0.66. The test-retest reliability is considerably high, ranging from r=0.81 to r=0.89, for the different scales. These estimates are based on a two-week interval between trials. The overall reliability of the test is sufficient for research purposes. However, more attention and caution are recommended when assessing scores and making a placing, or employment decision. A professional who is familiar with the inventory, its theoretical background and the process of interpreting the score profiles should make such decisions.

The authors of the book provide a considerable body of data for the inventory’s validity. Again, it has been assessed on the basis of scores form the norm sample. The authors discuss content validity in the inventory’s manual. Content validity is supported by a brief literature review that indicates the theoretical basis for the different subscales. This examination of Content validity is hardly satisfactory, or totally convincing. Some of the scales, such as Confidence in success are not always positively correlated with achievement motivation (Feather, 1963).

The authors of the AMI also discuss criterion-related validity and construct validity. Expressly, they examine the relationship between certain AMI subscales and aspects of social desirability, as measured by the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR). The correlation between AMI subscales and Self-Deception and Impression Management (BIDR) is not conclusive and cannot be considered strong evidence for Criterion or Construct Validity. The authors also examine the relationship between AMI scales and personality characteristics measured by the Revised NEO Personality Inventory. The existing correlations suggest the convergent and discriminant validity of the AMI subscales, as they are examined as personality constructs. Furthermore, the creators of the inventory examine criterion validity by correlating test scores with individual demographic characteristics, like age, gender and ethnicity. Overall, the validity of the Achievement Motivation Inventory is adequate, with certain limitations that have to be considered, especially when administering the test for practical purposes.

The factor structure of the AMI is analyzed as the interrelationship among the 17 dimensions, not as interrelationship among separate items. Factor analysis indicates the 17 subscales could be further organized as three main, more general constructs (Mental Measurement Yearbook).
k0333Probable weakness of the AMI is rooted in the questionable, at times, reliability and validity. Measurements regarding three of the subscales (Self-Assurance, Ambition and Self-Control) are never presented. Furthermore, the lack of such data is not addressed and explained by the creators of the test.

Overall, the AMI is a new inventory design that enriches our understanding of achievement motivation and suggest it is a personality construct. Although such conclusion might be questionable, the approach is still efficient and effective in testing the concept when the need occurs (Krumboltz, 1957).
I would recommend the inventory for research purposes. It provides opportunity for multiple measures on a broad spectrum of personality constructs that can greatly increase the existing body of knowledge. The test could also be appropriate for measuring “job-related achievement Motivation” (Schuler et. Al, 2004). The inventory could be helpful to employers for personnel selection, personnel development and even professional counseling. Yet, this requires the test to be administered by a competent psychologist, or assessment specialist who is familiar with the constructs and the limitations of the inventory. I would not consider the AMI appropriate for the educational setting. The norm sample does not include students and the authors do not discuss achievement motivation in the academic field. Existing body of research indicates, academic performance could be influenced by other factors, such as Test Anxiety, Internal/External Locus of Control (Smith, 1975). Neither of these are found among the personality constructs that the AMI addresses. Therefore, its use in education is not recommended.

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