Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michael E. Gordon

Committee Members

John Larsen, Gerald Whitlock, John Allen


The purpose of this study was to test a modified version of Porter and Lawler's attitude-performance model with a population of disadvantaged trainees. Seven hypotheses were derived from the following formulation: If a trainee sees high performance as leading to the attainment of one or more personal rewards in the training situation, he will tend to exert high effort in the program. The trainee will have correspondingly high performance in this situation providing he has the relevant ability and appropriate role perceptions.

To test these hypotheses data were obtained from 97 disadvantaged trainees and their eight supervisors at a manpower development project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Each trainee was given three questionnaires designed to measure the value of four rewards resulting from training, the perceived probability that high performance will lead to these rewards, and the importance of certain role perceptions. Ability scores were based upon scores on three aptitude tests obtained from the test files program. Each of the eight supervisors was asked to rank his trainees on degree of effort exerted and overall performance. The supervisors were also administered the role perception questionnaire.

The results of the study offer only limited support to the model, as only two of the seven hypotheses were confirmed. It was found that trainees who saw high performance as leading to the attainment of desired rewards did exert the more effort in training, and also had higher ratings of overall performance. However, the predicted increases in the relationship between effort and overall performance for trainees with high ability and appropriate role perceptions were not found. A number of possible explanations for these findings are discussed.

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