Motivational factors, school atmosphere, and SES: Determinants of children's probability task performance

Sunanda Luthar, Edward Zigler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Motivational aspects of probability learning performance were examined in 106 third- and fourth-grade children, sampled from three schools. Several measurement modalities were used to assess children's motivational levels. The relationship between probability learning scores and motivational constructs was found to be strongly influenced by socioeconomic status (SES) as well as by school atmosphere Unlike their middle-class counterparts, lower SES children with an internal locus of control made fewer maximizing responses, displaying an unwillingness to settle quickly for lower amounts of reinforcement. Additionally, in the most strict of the three schools, children with high success expectancies made fewer attempts at different patterns of response, reflecting lower tendencies to explore in searching for maximal reinforcement. The effects obtained were interpreted in terms of sociodemographic influences on children's motivational structures, and in terms of possibility varying cannotations of probability learning scores across different subject populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-494
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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