Self-assessment, self-enhancement, and task preference

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If task choice depends on a person's interest in the accurate assessment of his or her abilities, task attractiveness should be positively related to the diagnosticities of all performance outcomes with regard to one's ability level. In contrast, the view that people are primarily interested in maximizing pride or mininizing shame would predict that task attractiveness is positively related to the diagnosticity of success but negatively related to the diagnosticity of failure. To test these predictions, subjects were presented with tasks that varied orthogonally in the extent to which success was diagnostic of high ability level and the extent to which failure was diagnostic of low ability level. Consistent with the self-assessment view, task attractiveness increased both with the diagnosticity of success and with the diagnosticity of failure. Furthermore, both effects were more pronounced for high achievement motive subjects than for low achievement motive subjects. This result lends support to the self-assessment view, which assumes that high achievement motive subjects are more interested in attaining the ability-relevant information contained in any performance outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-129
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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