This research sought to understand social and motivational precursors of high school students’ achievement by examining associations between students’ relationships with their parents, implicit achievement motivation and explicit goals, goal pursuit strategies, and achievement attainment, as well as associations with well-being. A distinction was drawn between implicit motivation, or the unconscious affective response that an individual experiences in response to a given situation, and their explicit goals, or the self-declared goal values (Brunstein, 2010; Brunstein & Maier, 2005). Pursuit of goals congruent with implicit motivation is described as hot goal pursuit. Pursuit of goals not congruent with implicit motivation is described as cold goal pursuit.
To understand these factors, 244 high school students were recruited from school- or after-school programs. All analyses were cross-sectional and based on students’ self-reports. Findings indicate that (1) explicit achievement goals are more consistently associated with achievement than implicit achievement motivation, but achievement can be high when either explicit goals or implicit motivation are high. (2) Associations between explicit goals and achievement are due, in part, to indirect effects through Education-related Selective Primary Control strategies (Ed-SPC). (3) Students’ perceptions of parents’ warmth and involvement were associated with their achievement (positively and negatively, respectively), partially due to indirect effects through Ed-SPC. (4) Relationships with parents were not associated with pursuit of hot versus cold goals. (5) Associations between achievement and well-being did not depend on whether goals were congruent with implicit motivation. (6) Students were more likely to use Selective Secondary Control (SSC) and Compensatory Primary Control (CPC) when either implicit achievement motivation or explicit achievement goals were high, and (7) relationships with parents were associated with SSC and CPC strategy use.
This research highlights the importance of implicit achievement motivation and explicit achievement goals for high school students’ achievement, as well as the role of Ed-SPC, SSC, and CPC. It demonstrates the importance of parent-child relationships, and specifically the possible benefits of perceptions of warmth within these relationships. These results may be used to help teachers develop lessons plans which appeal to implicit motivation, or to promote parents’ role in their children’s lives.