Expectancy Value Theory: Age, Gender & Ethnicity Differences

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  • 0:11 Introduction
  • 0:41 Definition and Concepts of EVT
  • 2:18 Models of EVT
  • 5:08 Differences Among…
  • 6:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Hurst
The values placed on an object or event and our expectancies of performance play a large role in determining the level of effort and ultimately the level of achievement for a given activity. This lesson will detail two popular models of expectancy-value theory and provide suggestions on how to incorporate these theories into a classroom setting.


'How did you do on that test?' Amy asked Ron as they walked out of European history class.

'I don't know. I really don't even care. I hate this subject and it's boring. Why do I need to care about what happened 200 years ago in Europe?'

Have you had similar conversations with your friends? It's common for students to question why they have to take some required courses. When you don't see the point of taking a class (or if you question the value of the class), you are more likely to not try hard in the class.

Definition and Concepts of EVT

The expectancy-value theory, developed by Dr. Martin Fishbein, was created in order to explain and predict an individual's attitude toward objects and actions. The concept of expectancy represents the idea that most individuals will not choose to do a task or continue to engage in a task when they expect to fail. Value refers to the different beliefs students have about the reasons they might engage in a task. The expectancy-value theory has three basic components: belief, value and expectations.

First, individuals respond to information about an object or behavior by developing a belief about it. If the belief already exists, it may be modified by new information. Next, individuals assign a value to each attribute that a belief is based on. Finally, an expectation is created or modified based on the calculation of beliefs and values.

Let's go through an example to clarify these components. Mark has to choose a PE elective in college. He chooses tennis because he remembers playing tennis as a child and enjoying it. On the first day of class the instructor runs through all of the basic swings and allows students to practice in a relaxed environment. Mark calculates that tennis was a good class to choose. His belief was positive; he attributed this to enjoying the sport of tennis previously. His values were reinforced with the enjoyment of the first class and he expects the class to be enjoyable for the duration of the semester.

Diagram of the model of need for achievement
Model of Need for Achievement

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