The effect of achievement orientation on response to success and failure in pediatric cancer patients


Objective: To assess the effects of different cognitive orientations focused on social comparison or self-comparison, followed by success or failure feedback, on mood, task persistence, and task difficulty choice in children with cancer. Methods: Children with cancer (N = 79) and a group of age-matched controls (N = 72) were randomly assigned in a 2 (Achievement Orientation) x 2 (Feedback) between-subjects design. Results: Between-group differences revealed that children with cancer chose more difficult tasks for the future than those in the comparison group, while the comparison subjects chose to persist longer with the problems than did children with cancer, with no significant differences on measures of mood. Conclusions: The beneficial effects of achievement orientation as a clinical manipulation may not be as robust as expected with a medically ill population, due to the apparent stability of achievement orientations.

Publication Title

Journal of Pediatric Psychology