achievement motivation


Also found in: Medical.

achievement motivation

a concept (with associated projective tests) introduced by the psychologist D.C. McClelland (1961) which purports to measure individual and cultural differences in the striving for achievement.

The concept rests on the hypothesis that the need for achievement (NAch) is stimulated by a caring parental relationship (particularly with the mother) which sets high standards of behaviour. Achievement motivation is presented as a significant determinant of individual entrepreneurial endeavour and also of different levels of economic development (e.g. between developed and undeveloped societies). This latter assumption is challenged by many sociologists who regard McClelland as failing to take into account major differences in the social and economic structures of societies apart from achievement motivation.