Motivational and disciplinary differences in academic risk taking in higher education

Sara Abercrombie, Hyeyoung Bang, Ashley Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Academic risk taking is a strategy where students engage in more difficult, challenging work in order to reap greater personal or community benefits, despite uncertainty, such as potential failure. A sample (N = 355) of college students from a Midwest university were measured on three dimensions of academic risk-taking as well as two motivational constructs, achievement goal orientation, and need for cognition using a hierarchical regression analysis. Students from different college majors were compared on risk-taking, and the relationships between achievement goal orientations, need for cognition, and risk-taking dimensions were tested. Results indicate achievement goal orientations and need for cognition strongly predict academic risk taking, and there are small but significant differences by major on some risk-taking dimensions. Implications include the need to foster academic risk-taking in different disciplines in higher education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-912
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022


  • Academic risk taking
  • achievement goal orientation
  • higher education
  • need for cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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