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The Lethal Cocktail: Low Self-belief, Low Control, and High Fear of Failure

  • Andrew J. Martin (a1)

Cluster analysis of school students' responses to the Student Motivation Scale (Martin, 2001, in press) identified two groups of students separated on the basis of their self-belief, sense of control, and fear of failure. The first group reflects failure avoidance and is represented by a lethal cocktail of low self-belief, low control, and high fear of failure. The second group reflects success orientation and is represented by high self-belief, high control, and low fear of failure. Follow-up analyses to validate these two clusters showed that the failure avoidant students were significantly higher in anxiety and pessimism and significantly lower in achievement. Implications are discussed for intervention and prevention aimed at enhancing students' self-belief and control and reducing students' fear of failure. Also discussed is the need to develop goals, incentives, and climates for students that draw them to attain success rather than drive them to avoid failure.

Corresponding author
Dr Andrew Martin, SELF Research Centre, Bankstown Campus, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. Email:
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Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools
  • ISSN: 2055-6365
  • EISSN: 2055-6373
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