Interrater Agreement of Experts’ Fear of Success Imagery Scoring

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Interrater Agreement of Experts’ Fear of Success Imagery Scoring

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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 times, contradictory. 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 and age. 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.



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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

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Moreland, John R.; Liss-Levinson, Nechama.. (1977). Interrater Agreement of Experts’ Fear of Success Imagery Scoring. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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