Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Carol Freedman-Doan, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Michelle Byrd, PhD

Committee Member

Amy Young, PhD

Committee Member

Kristine Ajrouch, PhD


The expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation (Eccles, Adler, Futterman, Goff, Kaczala, et al., 1983; Wigfield & Eccles, 2000) posits that an “individual’s choice, persistence, and performance can be explained by their beliefs about how well they will do on the activity and the extent to which they value the activity” (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000, p. 68). Related research has focused on the enumeration of possible selves and how one’s hoped-for and feared possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986) influence motivation and engagement in activities related to goal choices. Most studies of motivation and achievement have focused on children and adolescents with respect to academic achievement and risk behaviors. Little work has been done to examine how these theoretical concepts apply to emerging adults and more distal life goals. This study examines how one’s hoped-for and feared possible selves are related to values and expectations, and how these constructs influence the achievement of distal life goals. It is hypothesized that one’s hoped-for and feared possible selves at age 18 years are related to expectancies and values 2 years later. It is also hypothesized that expectancies and values are related to goal achievement 10 years post-high school. Finally, it is hypothesized that expectancies and values mediate the relations between one’s ideas about possible selves and their achievement.

Data for this study (n=1,240) are drawn from a 17-year longitudinal project, Michigan Study of Adolescent and Adult Life Transitions (MSALT), University of Michigan. (The MSALT research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation [DBS9215008] to Bonnie L. Barber and Jacqueline S. Eccles, [92-1459-92] from the William T. Grant Foundation to Eccles and Barber, and by a Spencer Foundation grant to Eccles and Barber).