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Competence and Motivation

Theory and Application


A dozen years ago, the Handbook of Com- and empirical findings based on a collo-
petence and Motivation (Elliot & Dweck, quial, primarily Western notion of the term
2005) was published. The Handbook con- achievement.
sisted of 35 chapters written by well-known We sought to provide a North Star for
scholars across diverse disciplines, and it had this literature by establishing competence
an ambitious aim—to refocus the achieve- as its conceptual core. We chose compe-
ment motivation literature using the con- tence as the conceptual core because doing
cept of competence. Specifically, we (Elliot so addressed both of the weaknesses we had
and Dweck) sought to establish competence identified. First, competence may be pre-
as the conceptual core of the achievement cisely and clearly defined as a condition or
motivation literature, and proposed that this quality of effectiveness, ability, sufficiency,
conceptual shift be accompanied by a shift or success. Therefore, competence motiva-
in terminology from achievement motiva- tion encompasses the appetitive energiza-
tion to competence motivation. tion and direction of behavior with regard
Copyright © 2017. Guilford Publications. All rights reserved.

Why did we ground the achievement to effectiveness, ability, sufficiency, or suc-

motivation literature in the concept of com- cess (as well as the aversive energization and
petence? We did so because we saw two pri- direction of behavior with regard to ineffec-
mary weaknesses in this literature: (1) The tiveness, inability, insufficiency, or failure).
literature lacked coherence and a clear set of Second, competence motivation is broadly
structural parameters on which to base the- and deeply applicable to psychological func-
ory and guide operationalization (in short, tioning: It is ubiquitous in everyday life,
there was no obvious, consensual answer to it has an important influence on emotion
the question “What should and should not and well-being, it is operative and integral
be included within a literature on achieve- throughout the lifespan, and it is relevant
ment motivation?”), and (2) the literature to individuals across cultures. In short, we
was too narrowly focused and limited in believed that competence had great potential
scope, especially relative to its potential. As as a precise, broadly applicable concept that
a function of these weaknesses, the litera- could help integrate and provide guidance
ture that had developed represented a col- for a literature that was failing to reach its
lection of loosely related conceptual ideas full potential.

Handbook of Competence and Motivation, Second Edition : Theory and Application, edited by Andrew J. Elliot, et al., Guilford Publications, 2017.
ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from utoronto on 2018-04-04 07:56:54.

We (and The Guilford Press) were of the Handbook, we changed the charge
extremely pleased with the reception that the to our authors, explicitly asking them to
Handbook received. This was subjectively include coverage of the link between theory
represented by the many positive comments and application. This extended focus may
we received from scholars in the field, and be concretely seen in the new title: Hand-
objectively represented by the large number book of Competence and Motivation, Sec-
of citations of the chapters in the volume ond Edition: Theory and Application. It
and the large number of copies sold. Given is our hope that this extended focus of the
this positive reception, Guilford approached Handbook will broaden and deepen our
us to request that we edit a second edition coverage of this important area of inquiry,
of the Handbook. We agreed and (slightly) and prompt new insights from the theory-­to-­
expanded our editorial team. practice interface.
We (Elliot, Dweck, and Yeager) were not The Handbook reflects and celebrates the
interested in a second edition that merely renaissance of motivation as a field, not just
rehashed the material from the initial edi- the field of competence motivation, but the
tion; instead, we wanted new, fresh chap- field of motivation more generally. After the
ters. Indeed, this is what we both solicited “cognitive revolution,” the field fell into dis-
and received from our authors. Structurally, array, and research on motivation slowed to
whereas some of the sections of the Hand- a trickle. In fact, in the 1980s, the esteemed
book are the same as the original, others series, the Nebraska Symposium on Moti-
are different. Likewise, some of the chapter vation, even considered dropping the term
topics are the same, while others are differ- motivation from its title (it did not do so for
ent. Many of the authors are the same, but fear of losing name recognition and, accord-
again, many are different. What is, emphati- ingly, library subscriptions). How far the
cally, the same across the two editions of the field has come since then is manifest in infor-
Handbook is the caliber of the authors and mative, programmatic research and appli-
the chapters that they have provided. As in cations grounded in attribution theories,
the initial volume, we have received chapters goal theories, approach–­avoidance theories,
from well-known researchers in their areas expectancy–­ value theories, need theories,
of expertise and they have, without excep- implicit theories, cultural theories, identity
tion, delivered excellent, authoritative, state- theories, and more. We believe that there has
of-the-­science reviews of their focal topic. never been a more exciting time in the field
What is decidedly new in this edition of the of motivation in general and competence
Handbook is a focus on application. motivation in particular. We hope the pres-
Since the first edition of the Handbook ent excitement is only exceeded by the era to
was published, the field has entered a new come (which will be, we anticipate, covered
and exciting phase in which there has been in the future editions of the Handbook).
a burgeoning interest in applying basic This volume comprises six sections. Part
Copyright © 2017. Guilford Publications. All rights reserved.

motivational theory, concepts, and ideas to I is simply an introduction to the volume,

real-world contexts. Most notably, there has and it leads into Part II, which focuses on
been an influx of research on the implemen- the constructs that are central to the com-
tation and testing of motivational interven- petence motivation literature. These con-
tions in schools (especially), the workplace, structs are intelligence and ability (i.e., com-
and the ballfield (for reviews, see Karaben- petence per se), the motives that energize
ick & Urdan, 2014; Lazowski & Hulleman, competence-­relevant behavior, the goals that
2016; Lin-­Siegler, Dweck, & Cohen, 2016; direct competence-­ relevant behavior, the
Spitzer & Aronson, 2015; Wilson & But- attributions used to explain competence and
trick, 2016; Yeager & Walton, 2011). This incompetence, the perceptions that one has
and related work holds considerable promise of one’s competence, the ways in which one
for both “giving away” knowledge gleaned values competence, implicit theories about
in the ivory tower and feeding back impor- competence, and anxiety regarding incom-
tant information from the “front lines” that petence.
can aid in theory refinement and develop- Part III focuses on processes that are rel-
ment. For this reason, in this second edition evant to competence motivation. In these

Handbook of Competence and Motivation, Second Edition : Theory and Application, edited by Andrew J. Elliot, et al., Guilford Publications, 2017.
ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from utoronto on 2018-04-04 07:56:54.
1.  Competence and Motivation 5

chapters, competence is not the central herein clearly demonstrate that research on
focus, but it is nevertheless integrally impli- competence and motivation is continuing
cated in the processes under consideration. apace, with much fruit emerging on both the
These processes are challenge and threat theoretical and applied fronts. We trust that,
appraisals, social comparison, autonomy, like ourselves, you will learn much from and
performance incentives, emotions, belong- be inspired by what you read in the pages
ing, stereotype threat, self-­regulated learn- that follow.
ing, intrinsic motivation, creativity, and
burnout. These chapters nicely illustrate
the broad reach of competence motivation REFERENCES
across a diverse set of important psychologi-
cal processes. Elliot, A. J., & Dweck, C. S. (Eds.). (2005).
Part IV shifts from constructs and pro- Handbook of competence and motivation.
New York: Guilford Press.
cesses to issues regarding the development of Karabenick, S. A., & Urdan, T. C. (Eds.). (2014).
competence motivation. Here the coverage Advances in motivation and achievement:
encompasses mental representations in early Vol. 18. Motivational interventions. Bingley,
childhood, self-­ regulation in early child- UK: Emerald.
hood, competence motivation in adoles- Lazowski, R. A., & Hulleman, C. S. (2016).
cence, competence motivation in the aging Motivation interventions in education: A
process, and gene–­environment interactions meta-­analytic review. Review of Educational
in the emergence of competence motivation. Research, 86, 602–640.
Following development, the focus in Part Lin-­Siegler, X., Dweck, C. S., & Cohen, G. L.
V is on demographic categories and social- (2016). Instructional interventions that moti-
vate classroom learning. Journal of Educa-
ization contexts that have a critical, perva- tional Psychology, 108, 295–299.
sive influence on competence motivation. Spitzer, B., & Aronson, J. (2015). Minding and
The roles of gender, social class, race, and mending the gap: Social psychological inter-
social identity are addressed, as are the ventions to reduce educational disparities.
influences of parents, peers, teachers and British Journal of Educational Psychology,
schools, coaches, and employers and the 85, 1–18.
workplace. Finally, Part VI provides a gen- Wilson, T. D., & Buttrick, N. R. (2016). New
eral primer on the intervention approach to directions in social psychological interventions
application that is having a major impact on to improve academic achievement. Journal of
contemporary theory and research. Educational Psychology, 108, 392–396.
Yeager, D. S., & Walton, G. (2011). Social-­
We believe that this second edition of psychological interventions in education:
the Handbook nicely builds on the founda- They’re not magic. Review of Educational
tion laid by the initial edition. The chapters Research, 81, 267–301.
Copyright © 2017. Guilford Publications. All rights reserved.

Handbook of Competence and Motivation, Second Edition : Theory and Application, edited by Andrew J. Elliot, et al., Guilford Publications, 2017.
ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from utoronto on 2018-04-04 07:56:54.
Copyright © 2017. Guilford Publications. All rights reserved.

Handbook of Competence and Motivation, Second Edition : Theory and Application, edited by Andrew J. Elliot, et al., Guilford Publications, 2017.
ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from utoronto on 2018-04-04 07:56:54.