Characteristics of High Achievement Motivation


Characteristics of individuals with high achievement motivation include an orientation toward problem-solving and moderate challenges, according to theorists like John Murray, David C. McClelland and John Atkinson. These individuals also place a high emphasis on accomplishment and success.

Moderate Challenge

  • Individuals with high achievement motivation prefer tasks and problems that involve moderate levels of difficulty. Usually, these individuals gravitate toward challenging but achievable goals where their abilities and efforts can affect the outcome.

Personal Rewards

  • Instead of deriving motivation from the potential for rewards, individuals with high achievement motivation use rewards, such as professional recognition and financial gain, as a way to measure their accomplishments. These individuals place a higher value on a personal sense of achievement.

Relevant Feedback

  • Another characteristic of individuals with high achievement motivation is the desire for feedback. These individuals do not seek feedback about their own personal qualities but instead about the success of their efforts. Feedback serves as way to measure the effectiveness of their work.


  • Individuals with high achievement motivation also have a strong orientation toward problem-solving. They spend extensive time thinking about potential solutions to current problems, as well as actively considering and analyzing additional possibilities for improvement.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Due to their focus on achievement and accomplishment, individuals with high achievement motivation are often characterized by poor interpersonal skills as well. These individuals have a tendency to overemphasize results and have difficulty managing people effectively.

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  • McClelland, David C. Human Motivation. New York City: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology. 6th ed. New York City: Worth Publishers, 2005.
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