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Sample Essay on Expectancy Value Theory

Expectancy Value Theory

Expectancy value theory is a theory applied in different fields such as communications, education, economics, marketing and health. While it differs in its implications and meaning in each field the general idea of the theory is that there exist expectations and beliefs or values that are known to affect subsequent behavior.

The theory was developed in the 1950s and 1960s by John William Atkinson in a bid to understand what drives achievement motivation of different individuals. The theory was expanded in the 1980s by Jacquelynne into the education field. According to the theory, the achievement of students and all achievement related choices are proximally determined by 2 crucial factors which include subjective task values and expectancies for success.

Expectancy refers to the confidence an individual has in their ability to succeed at a task while task values is how enjoyable, important or useful the individual perceives the task. There are empirical and theoretical work that suggests the values and expectancies that interact for purposes of predicting important outcomes like continuing interest, academic interest and engagement.

Other factors like stereotypes, demographic characteristics, perceptions of other beliefs, academic achievement and prior experience that also play a role in expectancy value theory. The theory has been applied widely in research especially in the educational field.

Expectancies refer to specific beliefs held by individuals in regard to their success on specific tasks that they will carry out in the long term future or the short term future. Expectancies held by individuals shape their behavior and the choices they make. For instance, a student in high school might believe they struggle with standardized tests.

As a result of this, they expect their performance on SAT will be poor. Consequently, such beliefs impact their actual performance once they complete the SAT exams. Expectancies such as these are attached to concepts like self-efficacy and self concept. Self concept is quite a broad concept and involves the beliefs of an individual in regard to their own abilities to attain their goals.

Self efficacy in academic scope involves an individual’s beliefs in regard to their competence and abilities. However, this is specific to specific domains like history and math. Researchers have discovered that values and expectancies can be easily distinguished as separate kinds of motivation from an early age (6 years old).

In the same manner, the type of value for instance utility vs. attainment can be easily distinguished within the academic domain from 5th grade. From a general standpoint of view, Eccles and colleagues came up with varying factors that determine the values and expectancies of an individual and they include:

  • Cultural milieu
  • Socializer’s behaviors and beliefs
  • Differential aptitudes of that individual
  • Previous achievement and related experiences
  •  How that person interprets experiences
  • General goals
  • Self concepts

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