Mastery avoidance: An overlooked aspect of medical students' motivation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Previous research on medical students' motivation mostly overlooked an important concept, namely, mastery-avoidance goals. The mastery-avoidance goal is defined as engaging in a task to avoid losing knowledge or skills that have already been acquired. We aimed to explore the role of mastery-avoidance goals in changes occurring in low frustration tolerance (LFT) levels over a span of one academic year. This approach enables us to understand which type of motivational orientation is expected to explain most adaptive educational outcomes. Methods. First year medical students (n = 241) participating in a physician-patient communication course completed the surveys of motivational orientations and LFT at the beginning and at the end of the academic year. A confirmatory factor analysis supported the construct validity of the motivational orientations structure. Results. Cross-lagged analysis using structural equation modelling revealed that the mastery-approach goal was negatively related to the progression of LFT while mastery-avoidance goal was positively related. Conclusions. The findings suggest that what matters is not merely the level of motivation, but rather the type of motivational orientations that students pursue. Encouraging students to improve their current skills, while discouraging competitiveness and reducing fear of losing competence, may enhance the effectiveness of medical training programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-302
Number of pages5
JournalNational Medical Journal of India
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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