Expectancy-Value Theory of Achievement Motivation: How Perceived Racial Prejudice Can Influence Ability Beliefs, Expectancy Beliefs and Subject Task Value of Métis Post-Secondary Students

  • Leon Myles Ferguson University of Saskatchewan
Keywords: Prejudice, Metis post-secondary education,


To explore how the threat of prejudice can interfere with a learner’s ability beliefs, expectancies of success and subjective task value 165 Métis post-secondary students were asked to consider themselves applying for a job with a non-Indigenous employer. Participants were grouped into high and low Métis identifiers and then placed into one of three groups: (1) Employer-prejudiced, (2) Employer non-prejudiced, and (3) Employer’s attitudes about Indigenous peoples unknown. A 2x3 Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to examine the relationship between Métis identity (high/low) and five concepts: (1) expectations about being hired, (2) value placed on being hired, (3) learners’ beliefs about the mock employer’s integrity, (4) the extent to which learner’s held negative over-generalized negative beliefs about non-Indigenous people, and (5) actual task performance. Although there were no interaction effects a number of main effects are reported. While students with a stronger sense of Métis identity reported more overall optimism about being hired that those learners with a weaker sense of Métis identity, they nevertheless reported less motivation to perform an assigned task to the best of their respective abilities. Students in the prejudiced condition reported lower expectations about being hired and less motivation to perform the assigned task to the best of their ability. Students in the prejudiced condition also reported stronger negative generalized beliefs about both the mock employer and non-Indigenous people in general. Although the students in the prejudiced condition reported less motivation to exert high effort on the assigned task, their actual performance on the task was not related to whether or not the hypothetical employer was described as prejudiced, non-prejudiced, or neither about Indigenous peoples. Future studies should explore how one’s sense of Métis identity and other minority group identity can influence reactions to a threatening academic environment and suppress academic motivation.

Author Biography

Leon Myles Ferguson, University of Saskatchewan

Psychology Department

Ph.D in Applied Social Psychology