Goal orientations and perfectionism in learning and coping: application of the selection optimization compensation and action control models

2017-02-09T05:51:54Z (GMT) by Toh, Yvonne Shang
This thesis examined motivation and personality, through three interrelated studies, in relation to learning and coping, among 341 high school students in Australia. Motivation was operationalised in terms of the 2x2 achievement goals (mastery approach, mastery avoidance, performance approach, performance avoidance); and personality, in terms of perfectionism. There is ongoing debate in literature on the adaptive and maladaptive components of goal orientations and perfectionism dimensions, which affect academic achievement and psychological wellbeing. To address the debate, analyses take the form of a variable-centred versus person-centred perspective. Findings indicated a difference in the two perspectives. In the first study which employed goal orientations versus goal profiles as predictors, mastery approach emerged as the adaptive goal orientation, while the avoidance goal orientations emerged as maladaptive. However, when goal profiles were employed as predictors, the “all goals moderate” and “mastery” profiles emerged as most adaptive; the “all goals high” profile did not turn out to be as adaptive. In the second study which employed perfectionism dimensions versus perfectionist profiles as predictors, high standards and order emerged as the adaptive dimensions of perfectionism, while discrepancy emerged as maladaptive. When perfectionist profiles were employed as predictors, the “unhealthy perfectionists” unexpectedly displayed similar learning and coping patterns as the “healthy perfectionists”, but less strongly. In the third study, the selection optimization compensation (SOC) and action control models provided for a self-regulation explanation of the unexpected findings. The importance of variable-centred versus person-centred analyses, and normal conducive learning contexts versus stress/failure contexts in assessing the adaptiveness of goal orientations and perfectionism were also discussed.