The Journal of Social Psychology, 1983, 120, 143-144.


Immaculate Heart of Mary College, Hong Kong; University of New South Wales, Australia; and Chinese University, Hong Kong


Although there seems to be considerable correlation between self-report measures of different types of achievement motivation, not all of the scales concerned are equally valid (1). Two major types of scale in this field are those designed to tap motivation towards educational achievement and those designed to tap motivation primarily towards occupational achievement. This leads to the question: Is the sort of motivation that leads to achievement at school also the sort of motivation that leads to achievement at work? Is a scale that is a valid predictor in one field also valid in the other?

One difficulty in examining this question is that educational motivation scales are primarily designed for use with schoolchildren -- a class of Ss whose occupational motivation must in many cases be rather inchoate. This problem was, however, thought to be much less difficult in Hong Kong, where even children just beginning school often have well-developed thoughts about what occupation might be most advantageous for them to enter.

With the aid of back-translation, therefore, the Ray-Lynn "AO" scale of occupational motivation in its short form (2) and the Furst (3) adaption of the Myers scale of educational motivation were translated into Chinese (4). They were administered to two classes (total N = 81) of all male students (modal age 15 years) at Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The scales were administered both at the beginning and the end of the second term and total marks over all subjects studied by children were obtained from a test conducted at the end of the second term. The students were also subjected to a variety of instructional techniques but these were found not to have any significant effect on the school marks obtained (5).

The test-retest correlations were found to be .68 (Myers scale) and .54 (Ray scale). The "alpha" reliabilities were .45 and .56, respectively. When items correlating poorly with their respective scale totals were deleted, a six-item Myers scale version and a 10-item Ray scale version were produced with alpha reliabilities of .59 and .61, respectively. They correlated .28 and predicted class achievement .319 and .082. Only the Myers scale prediction was significant. The mean scores for these scales were 14.45 (SD 3.58) for the Myers scale and 21.42 (3.41) for the Ray scale.

To provide some initial cross-cultural comparison, the data from an administration of the Ray scale to an Australian general population sample (N = 95) (6) was rescored for the short 10-item version used above. The Sydney mean was 21.98 (SD 4.51). We have, thus, the rather surprising finding that the Hong Kong children did not score especially high on occupational ambition.

The correlations with the Ray-Lynn scale indicate that a scale which has previously been shown to be especially valid as a predictor of occupational motivation does not predict educational motivation at all. Thus, although motivation of different sorts does generalize to some extent, the generalizable part is not necessarily the part responsible for variations in actual achievement.

The findings that the Ss were found not to be especially high on achievement motivation does have the advantage of suggesting that results obtained with them might be more generalizable than had at first seemed likely. It cannot, however, be assumed that research with Hong Kong adults would give the same findings. Being actually in the workforce might well alter motivation. A future survey of Hong Kong adults therefore seems called for. If such a survey did find that Hong Kong adults too are not so different after all, it would all the more clearly give the credit for Hong Kong's economic success to Hong Kong's exceptionally unregulated variety of capitalism.


1. Ray, J.J. (1980) The comparative validity of Likert, projective and forced-choice indices of achievement motivation. J. Social Psychology, 111, 63-72.

2. Ray, J.J. (1979) A quick measure of achievement motivation -- validated in Australia and reliable in Britain and South Africa. Australian Psychologist 14, 337-344.

3. Furst, E. J. Validity of some objective scales of motivation for predicting academic achievement. Educational & Psychological Measurement 1966, 26, 927-933.

4. The Chinese language translation of the scales is available gratis from the senior author at the address shown at the end of this article.

5. Leung, M. W. The effect of group counselling and teaching method on n-Ach and academic achievement. Unpublished dissertation submitted to the School of Education of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Masters degree, 1981.

6. See note 2 above.

Go to Index page for this site

Go to John Ray's "Tongue Tied" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Dissecting Leftism" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Australian Politics" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Gun Watch" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Education Watch" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Socialized Medicine" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Political Correctness Watch" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Greenie Watch" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Food & Health Skeptic" blog (Backup here)
Go to John Ray's "Leftists as Elitists" blog (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here)
Go to John Ray's "Marx & Engels in their own words" blog (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here)
Go to John Ray's "A scripture blog" (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here)
Go to John Ray's recipe blog (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here or here)

Go to John Ray's Main academic menu
Go to Menu of recent writings
Go to John Ray's basic home page
Go to John Ray's pictorial Home Page (Backup here)
Go to Selected pictures from John Ray's blogs (Backup here)
Go to Another picture page (Best with broadband)