Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lois Layne, Retta Poe, David Shiek

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Horner postulated the existence of an avoidance motive called the motive to avoid success and suggested that many women experience anxiety about achieving success because they expect negative consequences as a result of succeeding. Horner's fear of success concept has been widely cited as an explanation for the lack of stability and predictability in research on female achievement motivation. Recent research by Tomlinson-Keasey has demonstrated much lower fear of success in older, married college women than in a younger, single group. This finding was attributed to the age difference between the married and single groups, but more specifically to role variables (marriage) in that fulfilling the feminine role of wife and mother reduces anxiety about success. Affiliation needs in women have also been found to decrease in older, married women as assessed by Farrar. furthermore, previous research has also shown that the predominant theme in women's fear of success stories pertains to affiliative loss. The present study attempted to identify more clearly the relationship of age and marital status to women's production of affiliative and fear of success imagery. A total of 10? subjects, ages 18 - 30, wrote stories in response to a very explicit achievement cue and to a more ambiguous, neutral cue. The results of the multiple regression analysis indicated that age and marital status were not significantly related to affiliative imagery and fear of success. However, relatively high percentages of the total sample showed evidence of fear of success (77.5%) and affiliative imagery (78.4%). Additional multiple regressions revealed that both sentence cues elicited very similar scores for fear of success and affiliative imagery, indicating that very ambiguous cues may be as capable of eliciting fear of success imagery as very explicit achievement cues.


Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Women's Studies