Thursday, 2 April 2009

Do Successful People Believe They Have High Ability?

Most probably do. They have enjoyed many successes and have been told often by others that they are good. The more important questions, however, are why do they think they have high ability and how do they think they can maintain and improve their ability? The answers involve attributions.

Successful people will readily admit that it takes more than ability to be successful. They stress the value of hard work. The best people in business, sports, education, and other professions are typically those who work extra hours, spend more time practicing, seek advice from others, and look for better ways of accomplishing tasks. Attribution research attests to the value of success attributions stressing ability and effort (e.g., “I’m good at this and I work hard.”). Successful people believe they can improve their abilities through diligent effort. When they fail they attribute it to factors they can change (e.g., “I used a bad strategy. I’ll have to figure out a better one for the future.”).

Further, although believing that one has good ability facilitates motivation, an overemphasis on ability may actually be demotivating because people may believe they do not need to put forth their best effort to succeed. Upsets in sports often involve the losing team believing it was much superior to the winning team. Ability attributions that are strong but not overoptimistically high leave room for motivation for improvement.

No comments: