Uncertainty-reducing properties of achievement tasks

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Two experiments with 114 male candidates for officers' training school in Israeli armed forces tested the idea that choice among achievement tasks depends on the extent to which performance outcomes are expected to reduce uncertainty about one's ability. Two determinants of expected uncertainty reduction were investigated: the diagnosticity of the task at each zone on the ability scale and the person's uncertainty regarding the ability levels in each zone. As in previous research, the preference for a task increased with its overall diagnosticity, i.e., its diagnosticity over the entire ability scale. Furthermore, among tasks of equal overall diagnosticity, Ss preferred tasks that were the most diagnostic at the zone where most of their uncertainty was concentrated, irrespective of the location of this zone on the ability scale. It is concluded that Ss selected tasks that would maximize expected reduction of uncertainty about their standing on the ability scale. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1505-1518
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979


  • S's initial knowledge about own ability, achievement task preference, male officer candidates
  • task diagnosticity &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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