Horner (1968) hypothesized that achievement-oriented
behavior in women was influenced by a
socially learned avoidant motive, the motive to
avoid success, popularly referred to as fear of
success (FOS). In the eight years since Horner’s
original work, her conceptualization has received
considerable popular acclaim. However,
the literature in this area is confusing and, at
FOS is typically measured by analyzing the
imagery in a story written to a verbal cue such
as, "After first term finals Anne/John finds himself/
herself at the top of her/his medical school
class." There is practically no consistency across
studies in the proportion of women who include
FOS imagery in their stories. The percentages
range from a high of 89% (Alper, 1974) to a low
of 16% (Winchel, Fenner, and Shaver, 1974).
Other investigators have found percentages of
FOS imagery in the stories of male subjects
which range from a low of 9% (Horner, 1968) to
a high of 76% (Hoffman, 1974).
Investigators have attempted to account for
these differences by suggesting that they reflect
changing societal definitions of sex-role appropriate
behavior for women and a questioning of
societal standards of success by men. However,
Tresmer (1973) has shown that variations in the
proportion of subjects scoring high in FOS do
not follow any systematic chronological order.
Other researchers have asserted that subjects’
age differences are responsible for the differences
in the percentage of FOS imagery across
studies. However, in their comprehensive review
of the literature, Zuckerman and Allison (1975)
failed to observe a relationship between FOS
Another explanation for these variations is
that they are due to differences in the interpretations
given the ambiguous scoring guidelines by
different sets of investigators. In other words,
FOS imagery is not being reliably scored across
studies. The present investigation was conducted
to assess the amount of agreement in
scoring FOS imagery across sets of investigators.
McGarvey, Bill, Maruyama, Geoffrey & Miller, Norman. (1977). Scoring field dependence: A methodological analysis of five rod-and-frame scoring systems. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 433-446. doi:10.1177/014662167700100312
Moreland, John R.; Liss-Levinson, Nechama..
Interrater Agreement of Experts’ Fear of Success Imagery Scoring.
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