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This paper investigates the attitudinal/motivational predictors of second language (L2) academic achievement. Young adult learners of English as a foreign language (N = 311) completed several self-report measures and the Single-Target Implicit Association Test. Examination of the motivational profiles of high and low achievers revealed that attachment to the L1 community and the ought-to L2 self were negatively associated with achievement, while explicit attitudes toward the L2 course and implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers were positively associated with it. The relationship between implicit attitudes and achievement could not be explained either by social desirability or by other cognitive confounds, and remained significant after controlling for explicit self-report measures. Explicit–implicit congruence also revealed a similar pattern, in that congruent learners were more open to the L2 community and obtained higher achievement. The results also showed that neither the ideal L2 self nor intended effort had any association with actual L2 achievement, and that intended effort was particularly prone to social desirability biases. Implications of these findings are discussed.
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Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching
Department of English Studies, Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine Arts, Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz
SSLLT 6 (4). 2016. 619-649
doi: 10.14746/ssllt.2016.6.4.4
Unconscious motivation.
Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
School of English, The University of Nottingham, UK
The English Language Institute, Jubail Industrial College, Saudi Arabia
This paper investigates the attitudinal/motivational predictors of second lan-
guage (L2) academic achievement. Young adult learners of English as a foreign
language (N = 311) completed several self-report measures and the Single-
Target Implicit Association Test. Examination of the motivational profiles of
high and low achievers revealed that attachment to the L1 community and
the ought-to L2 self were negatively associated with achievement, while ex-
plicit attitudes toward the L2 course and implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers
were positively associated with it. The relationship between implicit attitudes
and achievement could not be explained either by social desirability or by
other cognitive confounds, and remained significant after controlling for ex-
plicit self-report measures. Explicit–implicit congruence also revealed a simi-
lar pattern, in that congruent learners were more open to the L2 community
and obtained higher achievement. The results also showed that neither the
ideal L2 self nor intended effort had any association with actual L2 achieve-
ment, and that intended effort was particularly prone to social desirability bi-
ases. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Keywords: motivation; implicit attitudes; Implicit Association Test; social desir-
ability; explicit–implicit correspondence
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
1. Introduction
Although second language (L2) motivation research has made impressive ad-
vances since Gardner and Lambert’s (1959) seminal study, one notable trend
has been by and large constant: Motivation is conceptualized as a conscious fac-
tor, one that learners are aware of and can therefore exert considerable control
on (e.g., Al-Hoorie, 2016a; Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011). This is certainly in line with
a more general trend in motivational psychology since the cognitive revolution.
Recently, however, more and more significance has been attached to the uncon-
scious side of motivation in mainstream motivational psychology (e.g., Al-
Hoorie, 2015; R. M. Ryan, 2012). The aim of this paper is to examine whether
the L2 motivation field would also benefit from attention to unconscious ap-
proaches to human motivation.
A second notable trend in much of the recent L2 motivation literature has
been the tendency to avoid using L2 achievement as a criterion measure (e.g.,
Moskovsky, Assulaimani, Racheva, & Harkins, 2016). This trend may be traced
back to Csizér and Dörnyei’s (2005) call for “increased theoretical clarity” since
“motivation is a concept that explains why people behave as they do rather than
how successful their behavior will be” (p. 20; see also Dörnyei, 2001). Dörnyei
and Ushioda (2011) have more explicitly advocated this motivation-behavior-
achievement theoretical clarity, stating that achievement may be “the wrong
criterion measure” (p. 200) for motivation studies.
More recently, an alternative point of view is to emphasize that, after all,
the “ultimate aim of motivation research is always to explain student learning”
(Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015, p. 101) and “ultimately, SLA is about achievement”
(Moskovsky et al., 2016, p. 643). Indeed, while it is true that motivation is more
strongly associated with behavior rather than achievement, it is also useful to
examine the different attitudinal/motivational factors in order to distinguish the
ones whose explanatory power is limited to (self-reported) motivated behavior
from those whose explanatory power extends to actual learning and achieve-
ment. This will appraise the strength of each motivational variable. This is an
issue that Ellis (2009) has raised, describing it as “really needed” (p. 108) now.
This is especially important since certain motivational constructs have already
been shown to predict academic achievement successfully, such as integrative
motivation (r = .33-.39, Masgoret & Gardner, 2003, Table 4) and self-efficacy (r
= .38, Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991, p. 34). This study therefore included a meas-
ure of achievement in the spirit of the proof of the pudding.
This study also utilized the L2 motivational self system (L2 MSS; Dörnyei,
2005, 2009) as a theoretical framework because it is currently the most influen-
tial theory of L2 motivation (Boo, Dörnyei, & Ryan, 2015). The L2 MSS postulates
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
three factors: the ideal L2 self, the ought-to L2 self, and the L2 learning experi-
ence. According to this theory, the ideal L2 self is a central component
(Dörnyei, 2009, p. 67) and “the key concept” (Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015, p. 87). The
ideal L2 self should therefore be the prime candidate to have a robust effect
extending to achievement.
1.1. Achievement in L2 motivation research
Contrary to claims in the literature (e.g., Thompson & Vásquez, 2015, pp. 159-160),
the L2 MSS has not been tested extensively in the context of actual L2 achieve-
ment, and so its educational relevance is not yet established. Probably following
the above call for theoretical clarity—and probably due to its convenience—there
has been a paucity of research utilizing measures of actual L2 achievement in the
L2 MSS literature. Indeed, the original argument in favor of the ideal L2 self equates
self-reported “intended effort” with the “criterion measure”: “The Ideal L2 Self was
consistently found to correlate highly with the criterion measure (Intended effort),
explaining 42% of the variance” (Dörnyei, 2009, p. 31).
In the few exceptions that did include a form of L2 achievement (e.g.,
Dörnyei & Chan, 2013; Eid, 2008; Kim & Kim, 2011; Lamb, 2012; MacIntyre &
Serroul, 2015; Moskovsky et al., 2016), the results are not optimistic. In the two
languages they examined, Dörnyei and Chan (2013) reported a relatively strong
correlation between the Mandarin ideal L2 self and grades in Mandarin (r = .42),
but a weaker correlation between the English ideal L2 self and school grades in
English (r = .24), a correlation that is barely higher than the correlation between
the English ideal L2 self and Mandarin grades (r = .17). Eid’s (2008) results paint
a similarly mixed picture, in that the three languages she examined varied in
how strongly they correlated with their respective grades (r = .17-.46). Cross-
language overlap was also obtained by Eid (2008), as she found significant cor-
relations between the French ideal self and Italian grades (r = .35) and between
the Italian ideal self and French grades (r = .31), despite “the growing consensus
in the field of L2 motivation that coexisting ideal L2 self images constitute fairly
distinct L2-specific visions” (Dörnyei & Chan, 2013, p. 455). Following the moti-
vation-behavior-achievement theoretical clarity, it is possible that observed cor-
relations between the ideal L2 self and achievement would decrease once we
control for potential mediators, such as motivated behavior and the L2 learning
experience (cf. Papi, 2010; Taguchi, Magid, & Papi, 2009).
In a direct demonstration of this, Kim and Kim (2011) initially had a signif-
icant correlation between the ideal L2 self and achievement, but this association
disappeared after controlling for motivated behavior. Kim and Kim (2011) note
that “being motivated by developing a vivid ideal L2 self through a dominant
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
visual preference seems to be irrelevant to the level of academic achievement”
(p. 36). Interestingly, the auditory—rather than the visual—learning style re-
mained a significant (though weak) predictor of achievement. Kim and Kim
(2011) explain the unexpected superiority of the auditory preference by drawing
from Kim’s (2009) provocative argument that, because L2 is an essentially verbal
ability, auditory preference might lead to more sensitivity in noticing L2 profi-
ciency gaps. A second finding in Kim and Kim’s (2011) study is that intended
effort also turned out to be a weak predictor of achievement, accounting for
“merely 5.7%” (p. 37) of the variance. Kim and Kim (2011) concluded by express-
ing their disappointment that “the effect was not prominent enough to [sup-
port] its educational relevance . . . demotivated students may have an equal
chance to earn a high English test score” (p. 38).
Consistent with Kim and Kim’s (2011) results, Lamb (2012) used a C-test
as a measure of L2 proficiency and found that the ideal L2 self could not predict
achievement in any of his groups. When it comes to motivated behavior, the
ideal L2 self also failed to predict it in two of three groups. In the group where
the ideal L2 self did predict motivated behavior, the magnitude of the prediction
was modest. In Lamb’s (2012) words, the ideal L2 self explained “only 25% of
the variance, compared to the more than 40% which Dörnyei and Ushioda
(2011) argue is ‘typically’ found in other recent studies” (p. 1014). MacIntyre
and Serroul (2015) also tested the effect of the ideal L2 self on actual L2 perfor-
mance in their idiodynamic paradigm, which examines individual motivational
variability on a per-second timescale. In line with the above findings, MacIntyre
and Serroul (2015) found “no evidence” (p. 126) that the ideal L2 self is associ-
ated with idiodynamic ratings. In at least one study (Moskovsky et al., 2016), the
ideal L2 self was a negative predictor of language achievement. Moskovsky et
al. expressed their surprise that their results “suggest the unusual conclusion
that learners with low ideal selves, low [positive L2 learning experience], and
low [intended learning effort] are likely to achieve higher scores on L2 profi-
ciency tasks” (p. 649; for further critiques of the ideal L2 self, see Gardner, 2010;
Henry & Cliffordson, 2015; Hessel, 2015; Lanvers, 2016; Motha & Lin, 2014;
Taylor, 2013, pp. 31-33). It is also worth noting that the ought-to L2 self has sim-
ilarly been inconsistent, sometimes showing a negative association with L2
achievement (e.g., Eid, 2008). Although a systematic meta-analysis of the con-
tribution of the L2 MSS is yet to be conducted, the emerging picture points to
the idea that “self-reported motivation does not always have behavioral conse-
quences” (Moskovsky et al., 2016, p. 641).
One explanation for this unsatisfactory predictive validity is the role
played by hidden moderators (e.g., low aptitude, inappropriate strategies, poor
instruction) that can undermine motivated behavior (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011).
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
Another explanation has to do with the role played by the unconscious dimen-
sion of behavioral intent. In stressing the influence of such unconscious factors,
some researchers have questioned the very validity of conscious self-reports—
or at least their prestigious status. For example, a meta-analysis by Connelly and
Ones (2010) shows the unexpected finding that ratings by others yield “substan-
tially greater” (p. 1092) predictive validity of academic achievement than do
self-reports. This suggests that researchers are sometimes better off asking
other people about an individual’s motivation (e.g., classmates and teachers)
than directly asking the individual about his/her own motivation! This finding
might be attributable to at least two factors: implicit attitudes and social desir-
ability. These two factors are discussed next.
2. Implicit attitudes
Implicit (i.e., unconscious) attitudes are “introspectively unidentified (or inaccu-
rately identified) traces of past experience that mediate favorable or unfavora-
ble feeling, thought, or action toward social objects” (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995,
p. 8). Neuroscientific evidence lends support to the claim that implicit and ex-
plicit attitudes are indeed two distinct constructs. According to Cunningham et
al. (2004), implicit attitudes correlate with activation in the amygdala, the brain
region concerned with emotions, while explicit processing is associated with ac-
tivation in the frontal cortex, the area responsible for control and regulation (see
also Cunningham, Johnson, Gatenby, Gore, & Banaji, 2003; Phelps et al., 2000).
This explicit–implicit dissociation is explained by dual-process theories of
cognitive functioning, which posit two simultaneous—but qualitatively differ-
ent—kinds of mental processes (e.g., J. W. Sherman, Gawronski, & Trope, 2014).
Associative processes form the basis of implicit attitudes through affective reac-
tions that are automatically and efficiently activated once a relevant stimulus is
encountered; propositional processes form the basis of explicit attitudes deriv-
ing rational judgments based on conscious, logical reasoning. This dissociation
implies some independence between explicit and implicit attitudes, in that each
might be associated with different types of outcome. Indeed, while explicit atti-
tudes might be better predictors of outcomes requiring intentional decision-
making, implicit attitudes tend to exert their influence in more spontaneous sit-
uations (Fazio, 2001; Strack & Deutsch, 2004). At an extreme, this dissociation
may be seen as “a split in consciousness, such as mutually unaware person sys-
tems occupying the same brain(Greenwald & Nosek, 2009, p. 65). When it
comes to learning the language of another ethnic/racial community, there might
similarly be implicit, not just explicit, processes in operation.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
2.1. Development of implicit attitudes
Attitudes in general form very early, even before birth, through genetic factors
(Bouchard et al., 2003) and through sounds heard while still in the womb
(DeCasper & Spence, 1986). After birth, attitudes are influenced by various fac-
tors (for a review, see Banaji & Heiphetz, 2010). One influential account of these
influences is social learning theory (Bandura, 1977), according to which children
learn from observing others. Research shows an association between children’s
and parents’ attitudes (for a meta-analysis, see Tenenbaum & Leaper, 2002). The
same principles seem to apply to implicit attitudes (Sinclair, Dunn, & Lowery,
2005), but relatively little research has investigated this topic. This study therefore
included a measure of parental support of L2 learning in order to examine its
relation to L2 implicit attiudes.
2.2. Implicit attitudes in L2 motivation
In a first attempt to extend research on implicit attitudes to the L2 field, Al-
Hoorie (2016a) used the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, &
Schwartz, 1998) as a measure of attitudes toward L2 speakers. Al-Hoorie found
that, after holding constant explicit attitudes toward L2 speakers, L2 learners
who had stronger implicit preference for L2 speakers (i.e., explicit–implicit con-
gruence) also expressed stronger affiliation with the L2 group as well as less fear
of assimilation and ethnocentric concerns. These results demonstrate that im-
plicit attitudes are related to other attitudinal/motivational factors. One pur-
pose of the present study is to extend this line of research to examine the rele-
vance of implicit attitudes to L2 achievement. Because Al-Hoorie’s (2016a) re-
sults were more salient for male rather than female learners, this study re-
cruited an all-male sample in order to examine this effect more closely. Finally,
this study also used the Single-Target Implicit Association Test (ST-IAT;
Wigboldus, Holland, & van Knippenberg, 2005), which is a variation of the orig-
inal IAT that does not require a contrasting category.
3. Social desirability
While research on implicit attitudes suggests that individuals may possess neg-
ative implicit attitudes toward specific social objects, social desirability proposes
that some individuals have a more general tendency to present themselves fa-
vorably, and so they tend to exaggerate their views of themselves, for example,
in their questionnaire responses. In presenting their impression management
theory, Tedeschi, Schlenker, and Bonoma (1971, p. 690) explain that “we are
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
postulating that it is not the actor’s own perceptions that matter so much as the
actor’s beliefs about the impression that an observer gains.” In other words, in-
dividuals might tend to inflate their self-reports in order to obtain more favora-
ble impressions from others. This is what investigators found when they exam-
ined self-reports that could be verified independently, such as one’s weight and
height. For example, obese and overweight adolescents tend to misreport their
weight, and this misreporting is consistently in the direction of underestimating
their weight, so that they look skinnier (Elgar, Roberts, Tudor-Smith, & Moore,
2005). Women of reproductive age also underestimate their weight, and this
happens regardless of their age, education, race, or marital status (Brunner
Huber, 2007). The misreporting is more frequently found in the responses of
overweight individuals, who usually have a stronger desire to present them-
selves more positively. When height is reported, as might be expected, it is mis-
reported in the opposite direction; people overestimate their height to look
taller (e.g., Rowland, 1990). Although the magnitude of misreporting varies
(e.g., see Spencer, Appleby, Davey, & Key, 2002), it is clear that the distortion is
consistently self-enhancing.
More crucially, impression management theory developed from cognitive
dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957), and so individuals may not be consciously
“fabricating” their responses in order to deliberately enhance their self-image. In-
stead, they are probably engaged in an automatic process to resolve a dissonance
that they are experiencing, without even being aware of it (e.g., “I think I am good-
looking, so I must be skinny”). Thus, this process is probably operating uncon-
sciously. That these participants were unaware of this process may be supported
by the fact that they were usually aware that their weight and height were going
to be checked afterward and their self-reports verified, which should have func-
tioned as an incentive to provide as accurate responses as possible. Based on this,
it is not unreasonable to expect people to also provide impression-management-
biased responses when it comes to more sensitive issues, such as their own mo-
tivation and diligence or their attitudes toward another ethnic or racial group. The
present study therefore included a measure of social desirability.
3.1. The Crowne-Marlowe Scale
Crowne and Marlowe (1960) devised a social desirability scale consisting of 33
true–false statements related to behaviors that are socially undesirable but that
people nonetheless typically engage in routinely. Examples included “I like to
gossip at times” and “I am sometimes irritated by people who ask favors of me.”
Individuals who score highly on this scale may have a general tendency to exag-
gerate their questionnaire responses.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Despite some controversy (e.g., Johnson, Fendrich, & Mackesy-Amiti, 2012), a
growing literature is showing that social desirability is associated with various mean-
ingful outcomes. For example, Barger (2002) reviewed research showing that the so-
cial desirability scale predicts hypertension, cortisol levels, cholesterol, autonomic
nervous system reactivity, lifetime psychiatric morbidity, and mortality following a car-
diac event. Because of the length of this scale (i.e., 33 items), some researchers have
tried to subdivide it into three shorter versions. However, in a large-scale study, Barger
(2002) questioned these shorter versions. This study therefore used the full version.
3.2. Social desirability in L2 motivation
If a scale is sensitive to social desirability, that could be a reason for concern. In
recognition of this, some early studies of L2 motivation did examine social de-
sirability. For example, while Gardner, Lalonde, and Moorcroft (1985) argued
that there was “virtually no evidence(p. 219) of an association between the
Attitude/Motivation Test Battery and social desirability, Gardner and Gliksman
(1982) reported that it had a correlation of .40 with motivational intensity, a
magnitude the authors described as “substantial” (p. 197). To the extent that
the “intended effort” scale is concerned with motivated behavior, it is concep-
tually similar to Gardner’s “motivational intensity.” Therefore, it is possible that
intended effort would similarly be prone to social desirability.
In a subsequent study, Gardner and MacIntyre (1991) utilized a measure
of social desirability but it resulted in a very low internal consistency coefficient
(α = .23), which the authors attributed to the use of Likert items instead of the
original true-false format. Because of this, this study used the original dichoto-
mous response format.
4. Research foci
The present study aimed to achieve two main goals. The first goal was to compare
the motivational profiles of L2 learners with different academic achievement lev-
els. The aim was to find out which motivational variables would be able to suc-
cessfully discriminate between high versus low achievers. The second goal was to
replicate Al-Hoorie’s (2016a) study in order to find out whether the results would
hold with a different sample, with a different instrument, and when controlling
for social desirability. More specifically, congruent learners (i.e., those with posi-
tive attitudes toward L2 speakers both explicitly and implicitly) were expected to
show more affiliation with the L2 group than would incongruent learners (i.e.,
those with positive explicit, but negative implicit attitudes). This study also at-
tempted to find out whether this pattern would extend to L2 achievement.
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
In addition, there is some controversy surrounding what IAT-type tests are
actually measuring (e.g., Greenwald, Banaji, & Nosek, 2015; Oswald, Mitchell,
Blanton, Jaccard, & Tetlock, 2013; Rudman, 2008). For example, do individuals
who perform faster really possess more positive implicit attitudes, or is this
simply because of their better task-switching skills or working memory capacity?
Or is it that learners who score higher are the “good” students who take the
implicit test seriously, while the low scores of others merely reflects careless
performance? It could also be that those who perform better simply want to
appear favorably, such as to please teachers and experimenters. To address such
potential confounds, social desirability was included as an explicit control, and
an additional implicit test was used as an implicit control. The additional implicit
test targeted attitudes toward the L2 course. If the implicit scores are a result of
the above confounds and artifacts (e.g., having better cognitive ability or taking
the test more seriously), this should apply equally to the two tests and therefore
conclusions derived from them should be very similar. In order for the implicit
tests to show discriminant validity, it was expected that implicit attitudes toward
L2 speakers would be related to L2 group affiliation, but implicit attitudes to-
ward the L2 course (which reflect the here and now) would not.
Finally, a measure of parental support was included in order to explore its
relationship with explicit and implicit attitudes.
5. Method
5.1. Participants
A total of 311 participants qualified for the final analysis after excluding those
who did not complete all study tasks or who responded randomly to the implicit
test (see the data analysis section for details). The qualifying participants (18-24
years old, M = 19.8, SD = 0.95) were Arabic L1 males studying English as a foun-
dation-year requirement at an all-male higher education institution in Saudi Ara-
bia. The majority (over 85%) had never visited an English speaking country. Less
than 10% had lived in an English speaking country for a maximum of three
months, while less than 5% had stayed there for a longer duration. All partici-
pants took part in the present study on a voluntary basis.
5.2. Materials
5.2.1. Implicit measures
The ST-IAT was adapted to measure attitudes toward L2 speakers and toward
the L2 course separately. Performing the ST-IAT requires pressing a left or right
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
button on the keyboard in order to rapidly categorize a series of stimuli appear-
ing in the center of a computer screen. Table 1 gives an overview of the L2
Speakers ST-IAT. In the first block, the participants practiced categorizing words
asPleasant or Unpleasant20 times. Then the actual test started. In the first con-
dition, Blocks 2 and 3, Pleasant was paired with L2 Speakers, as shown in Figure
1. In the other condition, Blocks 4 and 5, L2 Speakers moved to the other side
to pair up with Unpleasant. Before each block, the participants read instructions
and were reminded to perform as fast as possible. The L2 Course ST-IAT followed
the same format but used L2 Course in place of L2 Speakers (see the appendix
for the stimuli used). Each ST-IAT took less than 10 minutes to complete.
Table 1 Overview of the L2 Speakers Single-Target Implicit Association Test
Block Trials Function
Response key assignment
Left button (E)
Right button (I)
Test 1a
Pleasant or L2 Speakers
Test 1b
Pleasant or L2 Speakers
Test 2a
Unpleasant or L2 Speakers
Test 2b
Unpleasant or L2 Speakers
Figure 1 A trial of the L2 Speakers ST-IAT. The correct answer here would be the
left button (E) because the stimulus Honest belongs to Pleasant.
The stimuli were randomly drawn without replacement from Pleasant,Un-
pleasant, and L2 Speakers or L2 Course where appropriate. A red X appeared
when an incorrect response was given, and the participant had to correct the er-
ror before proceeding. Split-half analyses based on even-versus-odd trials showed
that both the L2 Speakers ST-IAT (Spearman-Brown’s ρ = .73) and the L2 Course
ST-IAT (ρ = .72) had good reliabilities. The ST-IAT scores were coded so that a higher
score reflected a more positive attitude. The software used was Inquisit 4 (2014).
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
5.2.2. Explicit measures
The participants also completed 10 self-reported attitudinal and motivational
scales relevant to explicit and implicit dispositions:
1. The Ideal L2 Self (4 items, Cronbach’s α = .80). Example: “I can imagine
myself mastering English one day.”
2. The Ought-to L2 Self (4 items,α = .65). Example: “I must study English
because it will earn me respect in the society.”
3. Intended Effort (5 items, α = .67). Example: “I am prepared to expend a
lot of effort in learning English.”
4. Family Support (4 items, α = .57). Example: “My parents encourage me
to study English.”
A higher score in each of the above four scales indicated stronger endorsement.
Three other scales were concerned with the degree of affiliation with the L1 group:
5. Fear of Assimilation (5 items, α = .72), adapted from S. Ryan (2009). Ex-
ample: “I think that the interest in the West has a negative influence on
the Arab culture.”
6. Ethnocentrism (2 items, α = .59), adapted from Neuliep and McCroskey
(1997). Example: “I find it difficult to work together with people who
have different customs.”
7. Religious Attitudes (6 items, α = .78), adapted from Al-Hoorie (2016a).
Example: “When I see a non-Muslim, the idea of sharing my Islamic faith
with them comes to my mind immediately.”
A higher score in each of these three scales reflected stronger L1 affiliation. The
above seven scales all involved 7-point Likert scales.
8. Social Desirability (28 true–false items, α = .66), adapted from Crowne
and Marlowe (1960). Example: “My table manners at home are as good
as when I eat out in a restaurant.”
A higher score in this scale reflected higher social desirability. Finally, the partic-
ipants also responded to two semantic differential scales:
9. Attitudes Toward L2 Speakers (10 bipolar adjective scales, α = .82), con-
cerned with individuals whose L1 is English.
10. L2 Learning Experience (8 bipolar adjective scales, α = .87), concerned
with attitudes toward the L2 course.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
The adjectives used in these two scales were based on the stimuli of implicit
tests (see the appendix).
The above scales were also submitted to Mokken scale analysis using
MSP5 (Molenaar & Sijtsma, 2000) to ascertain their discriminant validity and
unidimensionality, and all of them satisfied these two criteria. Social desirability
was three-dimensional as expected but was left intact in order to use the full
version as explained above. All materials in the explicit and implicit measures
were translated into Arabic to avoid language interference.
5.3. Procedure
The participants completed the study tasks in small groups in a laboratory. The
participants were informed at the beginning that the current study was part of
a research project at a British university, which incidentally might have activated
their social desirability. Each participant first responded to items randomly
drawn in a fixed order from the seven Likert scales, and then to the L2 speakers
and to L2 learning experience semantic differential scales. Afterwards, they
completed the two implicit measures with the social desirability scale in be-
tween. The order of the two implicit tests was counterbalanced, but this did not
have an effect on responses either to the L2 Speakers ST-IAT (d = 0.02) or to the
L2 Course ST-IAT (d = 0.05).
The participants’ final achievement in the L2 course (on a 9-point scale
ranging from A+ to F) was obtained. One particular difficulty in using real-life
course grades is that the researcher is rarely in full control of the process. On the
other hand, as explained above, examining real-life academic achievement is also
important because it is a meaningful outcome in educational settings. As an addi-
tional step to make the achievement variable more interpretable, learners were
considered high achievers if they obtained A or B, and low achievers if they ob-
tained D or F. This procedure excluded learners in the middle, gray area. Still, be-
cause it might seem artificial, this dichotomization procedure was used only when
the aim was to compare high versus low achievers. The full 9-point achievement
measure was used for the rest of the analysis. As detailed below, both approaches
led to positive results supporting the relevance of implicit attitudes.
5.4. Data Analysis
The analysis of the implicit tests closely followed the improved scoring algo-
rithm, called the D Measure, recommended by Greenwald, Nosek, and Banaji
(2003). The four test blocks were included in the analysis, and the latency of
each incorrect response was replaced with the block mean plus 600 ms error
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
penalty. Participants with more than 10% latencies faster than 300 ms—an indi-
cation of random responding—were excluded, while responses longer than 5,000
ms were removed. The responses from the social desirability scale were summed
to obtain a score with a maximum of 24. All other measures, explicit and implicit,
were rescaled so that they centered on zero and ranged from +3 to -3.
6. Results
6.1. Descriptive statistics
The first two columns in Table 2 present the descriptive statistics of the variables
in this study. Each of the core variables in the L2 MSS—the Ideal L2 Self, the
Ought-to L2 Self, the L2 Learning Experience, and Intended Effort—was highly
endorsed by the participants and showed relatively high inter-correlations. In-
tended Effort also had the strongest correlation with social desirability. As ex-
pect, Fear of Assimilation, Ethnocentrism, and Religious Attitudes also corre-
lated with each other.
Table 2 Means, standard deviations, and Pearson product-moment correlations
among the variables in the study (N = 311)
1. Ideal L2
Self 2.18 0.82
2. Ought
to L2
Self 2.07 0.88 .14**
3. Family
Support 1.96 0.90 .25*** .21*** —
4. Fear of
Assimilation 0.51 1.26 –-.05 –.08 .08
5. Ethno
centrism –0.44 1.41 –.09 .05 .09 .21***
6. Religious
Attitudes 1.22 1.10 .19*** .09 .28*** .50*** .25*** —
7. Attitudes to
L2 Speakers 1.10 0.83 .13 .22*** .06 –.15** –.08 –.09
8. L2 Speakers
ST-IAT 0.27 0.36 .01 .08 .13* –.08 –.03 .01 –.03
9. L2 Learning
Experience 1.18 1.09 .33*** .20*** .15** –.09 .00 .06 .26*** .01
10. L2 Course
ST-IAT 0.56 0.34 .00 .00 –.06 .01 .03 .01 .06 .26*** .02
11. Social
Desirability 13.25 3.71 .12 .04 .10 .07 –.10 .16** .08 –.01 .12* –.01
12. Intended
Effort 1.76 0.89 .38*** .44*** .21*** –.14** –.13* .10† .25*** .12* .33*** .06 .21***
13. Grades
Note. ***p .001, **p .01, *p < .05, †p < .10.
Grades are used here in the full 9-point format ranging from A+ to F.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
6.2. High vs. low achievement
The first goal of this study was to investigate the participants’ motivational pro-
files in order to determine which variables are associated with high versus low
achievement. A one-way MANCOVA was conducted to determine the effects1 of
Achievement (high versus low) on the dependent variables with Social Desira-
bility as a covariate. A few outlying values (z > ±3.3) were detected and removed
in order to satisfy univariate normality; no multivariate outliers were found
based on Mahalanobis distance scores, χ²(12) = 32.91, p = .001. The homogene-
ity of variance-covariance matrices was assumed, Box’s M = 72.89, F = 1.10, p =
.27. Using Pillai’s trace, there was a significant main effect of Achievement, V =
.186, F(11, 252) = 5.25, p < .001, h2p = .186. There was also a significant main
effect of Social Desirability, V = .091, F= 2.29, p = .011, h2p = .091.
The lower panel of Table 3 presents the results. Low achievers significantly
outperformed high achievers in the first four variables listed in the table: the
Ought-to L2 Self, Family Support, Religious Attitudes, and Ethnocentrism. On the
other hand, high achievers scored significantly higher in the next two variables:
the L2 Speakers ST-IAT (i.e., implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers) and the L2
Learning Experience (i.e., attitudes toward the L2 course). The remaining varia-
bles failed to discriminate between the two groups.
The upper panel of Table 3 lists the variables that exhibited proneness to
Social Desirability. It is clear that Intended Effort is the most extreme case, while
some others were mildly prone to it.
The results in Table 3 suggest that positive implicit attitudes toward L2
speakers are associated with higher achievement. The underlying assumption
of implicit attitudes is that they influence behavior without conscious aware-
ness, and therefore their influence is non-self-reportable (Al-Hoorie, 2016b). If
this is the case, implicit attitudes should still be able to predict achievement af-
ter controlling for the other explicit measures. Hierarchical linear regression was
conducted as it would allow investigating the unique variance accounted for by
implicit attitudes. This analysis was conducted on the full 9-point achievement
measure. The results showed that implicit attitudes towards L2 speakers did pre-
dict achievement over and above all the other variables in this study, β = .19,SE
= 0.39, t = 3.33, p = .001.
1 The use of terms like effect and predict throughout this paper is intended to be in the
statistical sense only. The direction of causality cannot be determined by the design of this
study and would require future experimental investigation. This point is discussed further
later in the paper.
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
Table 3 Upper panel: variables exhibiting proneness to Social Desirability as a
covariate. Lower panel: MANCOVA results for low and high achievers
Variable Group EMM SE F ph2p
Desirability Ideal L2 Self 2.93 .088 .011
Family Support 3.48 .063 .013
Ethnocentrism 3.73 .054 .014
Religious Attitudes 5.91 .016 .022
Intended Effort 12.62 < .001 .046
Achievement Ought-to L2 Self Low 2.20 0.072 7.35 .007 .027
High 1.93 0.070
Family Support Low 2.16 0.073 8.23 .004 .030
High 1.87 0.071
Religious Attitudes Low 1.49 0.088 12.37 .001 .045
High 1.06 0.085
Ethnocentrism Low 0.22 0.122 6.46 .012 .024
High –0.65 0.118
L2 Speakers ST-IAT Low 0.20 0.032 5.88 .016 .022
High 0.31 0.031
L2 L earning Experi ence Low 0.95 0.089 9.97 .002 .037
High 1.34 0.086
Ideal L2 Self Low 2.14 0.070 0.74 .389 .003
High 2.22 0.068
Intended Effort Low 1.80 0.074 0.40 .528 .002
High 1.73 0.071
Attitudes to L2 Speakers Low 1.03 0.072 1.37 .243 .005
High 1.14 0.069
Fear of Assimilation Low 0.62 0.108 1.08 .299 .004
High 0.46 0.105
Co ur se S T-I AT Low 0.06 0.030 < 0 .001 .975 < .001
High 0.06 0.071
Note. The sa me pattern emerges when the covariate is exclud ed.
EMM = esti mated marginal mean, SE = standar d error.
Finally, the correlational patterns of Family Support with the other moti-
vational variables were explored. The results are shown in Table 4. The first two
columns present the correlations with Family Support for low and high achiev-
ers, respectively. The last column tests whether the magnitude of the difference
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
between these two correlation coefficients is statistically significant. These re-
sults show that low achievers tended to associate family support with their ideal
L2 selves and their L2 learning experience more strongly than did high achievers,
suggesting that low achievers are more susceptible to external influences. This
pattern reverses, however, for implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers. High
achievers’ implicit attitudes were associated more strongly with family support
than it was the case for their low-achieving counterparts.
Table 4 Correlation of motivational scales with Family Support for low achievers
(n = 134) and high achievers (n = 140)
Ideal L2 Self
L2 Learning Experience
Intended Effort
to L2 Self
Attitudes to L2 Speakers
L2 Speakers ST
Note. All hypotheses are two-tailed.
***p .001, **p .01, *p < .05, †p < .10.
6.3. Congruence vs. incongruence
The purpose of this part of the analysis was to replicate Al-Hoorie’s (2016a) re-
sults, showing that congruent learners are more open to the L2 community, and
to extend these results to L2 achievement. Based on Al-Hoorie’s approach, a two-
step procedure was applied (see Table 5). First, learners who obtained a score
higher than the ne utral zero in Atti tudes towa rd L2 Spe akers were selected for the
analysis. This step satisfied the first column in Table 5 (i.e., positive explicit atti-
tudes). Second, these learners were then divided based on a median-split of their
L2 Speakers ST-IAT scores. This two-step procedure generated learners with posi-
tive–positive scores (i.e., congruent) and learners with positive–negative scores
(i.e., incongruent). The same procedure was followed to obtain congruent and in-
congruent learners in terms of implicit attitudes toward the course.
Table 5 Illustration of (in)congruence between explicit and implicit attitudes
Explicit attitudes
Implicit attitudes
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
A two-way MANCOVA was conducted to determine the effects of L2
Speakers Attitudes (congruent vs. incongruent) and L2 Course Attitudes (con-
gruent vs. incongruent) on the dependent variables with Social Desirability as a
covariate. As above, outlying values were removed, and no participant violated
multivariate normality. The homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices was
also assumed, Box’s M = 33.39, F = 1.04, p = .40. Using Pillai’s trace, there was a
significant main effect of L2 Speakers Attitudes, V = .048, F(4, 231) = 2.91, p =
.022,h2p = .048. As expected, there was neither an effect of L2 Course Attitudes,
V = .014, F = 0.80, p = .53,h2p = .014; nor a significant interaction, V = .017, F =
0.98, p = .422, h2p = .017. There was also a significant main effect of Social De-
sirability, V = .052, F = 3.19, p = .014, h2p = .052. Only Religious Attitudes showed
significant susceptibility to Social Desirability, F = 8.39, p = .004, h2p = .035.
The results are shown in Table 6. As expected, the congruent learners scored
less in all of Fear of Assimilation, Ethnocentrism, and Religious Attitudes, indicating
more openness to the L2 group. Some results are slightly over the conventional .05
threshold, but it has been argued that it is not critical for replication research to sat-
isfy an arbitrary threshold as long as the direction of the effect is maintained (e.g.,
Anderson & Maxwell, 2016; Nassaji, 2012). A more systematic approach is to meta-
analytically synthesize the results from the two studies. The meta-analytic Bayes fac-
tors were computed using the BayesFactor R package (Morey & Rouder, 2015) using
a 0.30 prior. The results, presented in the last column of Table 6, show support for
the hypothesis that congruent learners are more open to the L2 group.
Table 6 MANCOVA results for L2 Speakers Attitudes for congruent (n = 112) and
incongruent learners (n = 125)
Group EMM SE F p
Fear of Assimilation
5.31 .022 .022 182.63
3.51 .062 0.15 12.85
Religious Attitudes
3.19 .075 .013 31.68
5.46 .020 .023 2.75
Note. Repeating this analysis without the covariate leads to the same results, with the exception that
Religious Attitudes drops to non-significance (F = 2.15, p = .144, h2p = .009). This indicates that the
covariate has increased the estimation efficiency.
B = Bayes factor, Cong = Congruent, EMM = estimated marginal mean, Incong = Incongruent, SE =
standard error. Note also that Grades are used here as the full 9-point measure.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Still, because there is an element of subjectivity in choosing the prior, sen-
sitivity analysis was conducted using both a lower (0.10) and a higher (0.50)
prior. Changing the prior had a negligible effect on the results, indicating that
they are stable. Table 6 also shows that congruent learners obtained significantly
higher achievement, with the Bayes factor showing support for this hypothesis.
Rather than being a meta-analysis, this Bayes factor tests the hypothesis against
the null since Al-Hoorie’s (2016a) study did not involve a measure of achieve-
ment. Again, sensitivity analysis showed that this result is stable.
Finally, because the selection procedure used in the above analyses (i.e., Ta-
ble 5) might seem artificial, a two-step log-likelihood cluster analysis based on these
four variables was conducted on the whole sample. The results readily yielded two
clusters with a ratio of 1.03. At test showed that the cluster showing more explicit
openness to the L2 group also scored significantly higher in the L2 Speakers ST-IAT,
t(270) = 2.34, p = .02, d = 0.28. The meta-analytic Bayes factor, drawing from the
male subsample in Al-Hoorie (2016), also showed substantial support for the hy-
pothesis,B = 234.60. Again, sensitivity analysis showed that this result is stable. The
two clusters had equivalent scores on the L2 Course ST-IAT (d = 0.001).
7. Discussion
This paper has reported the first study in the L2 field investigating achievement
in the context of implicit attitudes, and the results show that implicit attitudes
toward L2 speakers successfully and uniquely predict L2 achievement. This study
also replicated Al-Hoorie’s (2016a) results, showing that explicit–implicit con-
gruence is associated with more openness to the L2 community. The fact that
this effect was present only for implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers, rather than
toward the L2 course, indicates that these results were not mere artifacts of the
learner’s cognitive skill or interest in the test, thus lending support to the implicit
attitudes construct. Several implications of these results are discussed next.
7.1. Attachment to the L1 community
Conventional wisdom (e.g., Gardner, 1985) states that L2 learning is different
from other school subjects in that it is social in nature. Therefore, openness to
the L2 community (according to the integrative motive) or to L2 speakers in gen-
eral (the ideal L2 self) is important for successful learning. The results of this
study suggest that it may not be enough to focus on openness to the L2 com-
munity without also considering the other side of the coin, namely attachment
to the L1 community. Strong attachment to the L1 community might be moti-
vated by a sense of threat to one’s L1 identity. In this case, learners may need a
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
sense of security through believing that the L2 does not subtract one’s L1 identity
(cf. Lambert, 1973; see also García, 2014, for a more dynamic conceptualization).
7.2. The ought-to L2 self
The ought-to L2 self turned out to be a negative predictor of L2 achievement (for
similar results, see Eid, 2008). In fact, even in the easier task of predicting intended
effort, the ought-to L2 self has not consistently lived up to theoretical expecta-
tions in empirical research (for similar critiques, see Lamb, 2012, p. 1014;
MacIntyre & Serroul, 2015, p. 110). So why is that? Since the ought-to L2 self is
concerned with meeting the expectations of others, this makes “ought self-guides
function more like minimal goals” (Higgins, 1998, p. 5). In line with the suggestion
that it concerns minimal goals, the ought-to L2 self has been shown to be associ-
ated with the less internalized, preventive forms of motivation (see Dörnyei &
Ushioda, 2011, p. 86; Taguchi et al., 2009), which are less likely to sustain engage-
ment in learning and enthusiasm about it. Unlike other theories, such as self-de-
termination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002), the L2 MSS does not propose different
levels of ought-to L2 selves based on degree of internalization (at least in the case
of Global English, cf. Dörnyei & Al-Hoorie, in press), or how to empirically opera-
tionalize each level. Instead ought-to L2 selves are considered “someone else’s
vision” (Dörnyei, 2009, p. 14) to perform “the duties and obligations imposed
[emphasis added] by friends, parents and other authoritative figures” (p. 32).
Thus, from this perspective, the ought-to L2 self is distinct from the more inter-
nalized forms of extrinsic motivation. Indeed, research shows that the more inter-
nalized forms of extrinsic motivation are associated positively with L2 achieve-
ment, while the less internalized forms are associated negatively with it (e.g.,
Wang, 2008). The lack of internalization might help explain why the ought-to L2
self turned out to be detrimental to L2 learning. If this interpretation is correct, a
reconsideration of the view that the ought-to L2 self is a positive motivational fac-
tor would be in order.
7.3. The ideal L2 self
The ideal L2 self could not predict L2 achievement in this study. Although the
empirical research supporting the ideal L2 self has been “straightforward”
(Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011, p. 87) and provided “solid confirmation” (Dörnyei,
2009, p. 31) and that “the emerging picture consistently supports [its] validity”
(Dörnyei, 2014, p. 521), this research has relied almost exclusively on one crite-
rion measure, namely (self-reported) intended effort; “thus,” as Robert Gardner
concluded in his critique of the L2 MSS, “they relate one measure based on verbal
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
report to another measure based on verbal report” (Gardner, 2010, p. 73). Re-
search testing the ideal L2 self in the context of actual L2 achievement has been
less conclusive. Still, unlike in the case of the ought-to L2 self, these results
should not be seen as detracting from the potential of ideal selves. Instead, it is
more likely that the conventional method of elicitation (i.e., “I can imagine my-
self . . .”) does not do justice to the perceived desirability, accessibility, plausibil-
ity, and present–future discrepancy that the theory stipulates as conditions (cf.
Henry & Cliffordson, 2015; Hessel, 2015). Expecting “I can imagine myselfto
subsume all these complex facets is too optimistic.
7.4. Intended effort
This scale and its variations (e.g., motivated behavior) have been the primary
source of validation for the ideal L2 self. However, little attention has been paid to
the validity of this scale in the first place. In this study, as in others reviewed ear-
lier, intended effort has emerged as a poor predictor of actual achievement. One
possible reason for this is that self-report rating, by nature, is a crude estimate
that is incapable of eliciting precise responses. This explanation is reminiscent of
an early study by McClelland and Atkinson (1948), who compared the self-re-
ported hunger of participants who had abstained from eating for one hour, four
hours, or 16 hours. Although the last condition would certainly lead to the most
hunger, the researchers found that self-reported hunger could not distinguish it
from the four-hour condition (though their implicit test did), and thus self-ratings
provided “a less sensitive index” (McClelland, 1987, p. 188). It seems that stand-
ard self-report measures are unable to capture subtleties beyond a certain thresh-
old (e.g., learners with high vs. very high intended effort). More recently,
Zogmaister, Perugini, and Richetin (2015) obtained similar results for both hunger
and thirst using the IAT, with implicit scores showing more sensitivity to motiva-
tional states, while other studies showed a similar effect in relation to smoking
(Sherman, Rose, Koch, Presson, & Chassin, 2003) and unfinished goal pursuit
(Ferguson & Bargh, 2004). In reviewing research that has compared self-reports
with objective measures of actual behavior, Back and Vazire (2012) report low to
moderate correlations and conclude that “there are substantial blind spots in
personality self-views when it comes to predicting actual behavior” (pp. 138-139).
Another possible reason for the poor predictive validity of intended effort
is simpler. Common sense suggests that intended effort should not function as
a consistent and reliable predictor of achievement. Some learners might express
lower levels of intended effort because they believe they would obtain higher
grades (e.g., confidence in one’s ability to pass the test of a particular course).
On the other hand, some low achievers might express higher intended effort
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
becausethey realize they are in danger of failing, thus trying to do too much too
late. The dynamics of academic achievement thus seem very different from the
dynamics of general L2 proficiency, and in some circumstances it seems nve to
expect a straightforward link between intended effort and academic achievement
(see Gardner, 2007; Moskovsky et al., 2016, for similar views). In the present study,
intended effort had virtually no correlation with grades (r = .00; see Table 2).
Finally, intended effort also showed a high level of susceptibility to social
desirability. Self-report measures vary in the extent to which they are suscepti-
ble to social desirability (D. Chan, 2009), and intended effort turned out to be
the worst of the bunch, just as Gardner and Gliksman (1982) reported earlier.
Adding a control like social desirability to the statistical model serves to increase
the efficiency of the estimate (Rutherford, 2000, p. 105) by reducing standard
errors without a substantial change in effect size. While this procedure was ef-
fective in the case of Religious Attitudes (Table 6), it did not help intended effort.
This adds to its problematic nature. It is therefore recommended that research-
ers exercise extreme caution in using intended effort as a criterion measure.
7.5. L2 learning experience
Although attitudes toward the learning situation are a robust predictor of L2
achievement as well as being one of the most dynamic constructs in L2 motiva-
tion (e.g., Lamb, 2012; MacIntyre & Serroul, 2015), it is unfortunate that this is
probably the least theorized aspect in L2 motivation theory. This study also op-
erationalized this construct using a semantic differential scale in order to make
it parallel to implicit test. The merits of using Likert versus semantic differential
scales have not received serious attention in the field.
That the effect of the L2 learning experience was not mediated by in-
tended effort leads to the speculation that more “unintended” mediators might
be playing a role, such as increased cognitive attention during enjoyable learn-
ing lessons. Such unintended motivated behavior triggered by particular situa-
tional cues may be too subtle to be detectable and self-reportable (Bargh,
Gollwitzer, & Oettingen, 2010, p. 288). From this perspective, a variety of ante-
cedents of successful learning can be investigated in future L2 research, such as
the mere presence of motivationally-charged stimuli in the environment that
are not even “noticed” by learners. For example, Radel, Sarrazin, Jehu, and
Pelletier (2013) exposed their participants to a “barely audible” conversation
(i.e., just above the auditory threshold) to which the participants could not have
attended because they were engaged in a cognitively demanding task. When
this conversation was about an intrinsically motivating activity reflecting enjoy-
ment and satisfaction, the participants’ motivation was automatically activated so
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
that they consistently outperformed their control counterparts both in solvable
tasks and in perseverance in unsolvable ones. The authors argue that studies
successfully eliciting unconscious motivation through situational cues have
yielded “indisputable evidence” (Radel et al., 2013, p. 763). It might also be a
fruitful future direction to examine the malleability of implicit attitudes through
the L2 learning experience (e.g., Dasgupta & Greenwald, 2001; Gregg, Seibt, &
Banaji, 2006) and its effect on explicit motivation and successful learning. For
example, Blair, Ma, and Lenton (2001) have demonstrated that engaging in men-
tal imagery can counteract the effect of negative implicit attitudes.
7.6. Family support
This study showed that family support was a negative predictor of L2 achieve-
ment (for similar results, see Lamb, 2012, Table 9). This counterintuitive pattern
is most likely because some parents recognize their children’s low achievement
and then offer them extra support. Thus, this explanation reverses the direction
of causality. Further interesting insights emerged from the correlational patterns
of family support with the other variables. First, low achievers had stronger cor-
relations between family support and each of the ideal L2 self and the L2 learn-
ing experience. That high achievers did not exhibit this pattern suggests that
they had dissociated these two factors from parental influence. They for exam-
ple enjoyed learning regardless of whether their parents proactively encouraged
them to learn or not. Second, high achievers had a stronger correlation between
family support and implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers. This pattern may sup-
port the distinction between the active and passive roles of parents, as “it is the
parents’ passive role that may be the more effective one in the language learn-
ing context” (Gardner, 1985, p. 119). Investigating family support is not standard
in current L2 motivation research, and therefore further research is required to
shed more light on these exploratory results.
A limitation of the design of this study is that the direction of causality
cannot be determined unequivocally. The use of effect and predict throughout
this paper has been intended in the statistical sense only. It is possible, for ex-
ample, that L2 success actually promotes favorable implicit attitudes. It is also
possible that there is a reciprocal relationship between these two variables. It is
hoped that this paper would inspire further research into these possibilities.
8. Conclusion
This study has shown that implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers and the L2 learn-
ing experience are positive predictors of L2 achievement, though neither of
Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
them has received sufficient theoretical attention. This study has also shown
that the ought-to L2 self and attachment to L1 group are negative predictors of L2
achievement. The ideal L2 self and intended effort showed no association with it.
While the “self” has served as a useful metaphor in L2 motivation for around
a decade and has advanced the field beyond integrativeness, “the multitude of
overlapping concepts in the literature on the self is more confusing than integra-
tiveness ever could be” (MacIntyre, Mackinnon, & Clément, 2009, p. 54). This may
not be undesirable. The complexity of the self may open up countless possibilities
for future research on a multitude of aspects, conscious and unconscious.
I would like to thank Zoltán Dörnyei, Phil Hiver, and the anonymous reviewers
for their comments on an earlier draft.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
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Unconscious motivation. Part II: Implicit attitudes and L2 achievement
Implicit test stimuli
L2 Speakers ST-IAT stimuli:
Pleasant: kind, beautiful, honest, optimistic, fair, knowledgeable, hardworking, polite,
cheerful, cleana.
Unpleasant: mean, ugly, dishonest, pessimistic, unfair, ignorant, lazy, impolite, cheerless, dirtya.
L2 Speakers: George, Elizabeth, New York, Britain, Newton, Robin Hood, Shakespeare, Oxford
University, dollar, BBC.
L2 Course ST-IAT stimuli:
Pleasant: interesting, clear, valuable, important, varieda, satisfying, gooda, appealing, en-
couraging, cleana.
Unpleasant: boring, complicated, time-wasting, trivial, monotonousa, dissatisfying, bada, re-
pellent, discouraging, dirtya.
L2 Course: grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading, speaking, writing, learning, studying, lec-
ture, teacher.
a Not included in the semantic differential scale.
... According to the self-determination theory (SDT) (Cooper, 2013;Ryan and Deci, 2017), healthy behavior depends on satisfying psychological needs such as autonomy, competence, and relationship. If needs are met to some extent on an ongoing basis, people might grow effectively and function well (Mystkowska-Wiertelak, 2020); nonetheless, if these needs are not met, individuals are more likely to witness abnormalities and dysfunctions (Al-Hoorie, 2016). ...
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Relationships in language contexts or interactions between teachers and learners might play an eminent role in EFL learners' language ability development. The current review brings to the fore an overview of teacher-student relationships and factors that contribute to this interaction. It has been revealed that EFL teachers' and learners' expectations, beliefs, personality, knowledge, and the language teaching context all play a role in creating an adequate relationship among teachers and learners. This overview suggests several practical tasks to develop a positive relationship between teachers and learners in EFL classrooms.
This study examines the potential roles of self-guides (ideal L2 self/ought-to L2 self), enjoyment, and gender in language achievement. A total of 727 Chinese high school students participated in this study and data was collected through a questionnaire survey. Path analysis showed that ideal self was positively related to both enjoyment and language performance with enjoyment mediating the relation in between. In contrast, ought-to L2 self was found to be unrelated to language enjoyment and negatively related to language performance. Independent t-test revealed that female students had higher levels of ideal L2 self and language enjoyment than male students. The comparison of the model across gender suggested that gender moderated the direct and indirect path from ideal self to language performance and the path from enjoyment to language performance. The pedagogical implications were discussed.
Purpose A couple of decades ago, the negotiated syllabus was introduced as an alternative to the predetermined syllabus. The review of the related studies shows the number of studies on the use of negotiated syllabus in English language teaching is scanty. The main purpose of the study was to explore the advantages/merits of employing negotiated syllabus in general English courses that undergraduate students take. Design/methodology/approach The authors employed the phenomenology research method to deeply delve into the undergraduate students' perceptions of the advantages of the negotiated syllabus. The phenomenology method is used for investigating human lived experiences through the descriptions given by the people involved in the study. This qualitative research method is mainly used to study fields with little or no knowledge. The authors collected the data through in-depth interviews with the informants (18 students) who were selected through theoretical sampling. The informants were undergraduate students at Allameh Tabataba'i University who were selected through theoretical sampling. The authors listened to the recordings to transcribe the participants' statements and remarks verbatim. Then, we analyzed the interviews thematically through open, axial and selective coding. This study aimed at exploring the participants' perspectives on the advantages of the negotiated Syllabus. The study's main objective was to investigate the advantages/merits of employing negotiated Syllabus in undergraduate students' general English courses. Findings Findings revealed that employing the negotiated syllabus resulted in many advantages which were reduced into three axial coding: psychological, pedagogical and individual. Generally, the negotiated syllabus reduces the students' anxiety, improves their motivation, affects their language achievement and develops their critical thinking and learner autonomy. Practical implications Teachers are recommended to minimize the constraints and use the negotiated syllabus to optimize language learners' motivation and language achievement in teaching English programs. Originality/value The impact of the negotiated syllabus on language learners has been investigated through quantitative research methods. However, the language learners' perceptions of the negotiated syllabus have not been well explored qualitatively.
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In the 19th century, Donders (1868/1969) argued that although psychologists could not directly observe mental processes, they could still infer them through performance speed in response to different stimuli. Donders described several experiments reporting different latencies depending on, for example, whether an object was placed to the right or left and whether the participant was using their right or left hand. A century later, researchers started investigating automatic stereotypes (Gaertner & McLaughlin, 1983) and automatic attitudes (Fazio et al., 1986) through sequential priming tasks. In a sequential priming task, the participant is first presented with a prime stimulus (e.g., Pleasant) and then with a target stimulus (e.g., Rose). The participant is to make a quick decision regarding the second stimulus (e.g., to classify it as Flower or Insect). A priming effect occurs when the similarity between the two stimuli makes the response speed faster than if the first prime stimulus was, for example, Disgusting.
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English has undoubtedly become a global language. Within the last decades, however, societies and individuals have changed, became more complex, and identities, emotions and social spaces have been dramatically affected and re-negotiated by globalisation (Heyward, 2004; Tanu, 2016). This opinion article focuses on the author’s researches and experiences in Central Asia and Eastern Europe as a teacher and lecturer. Based on her previous researches and observations the author offers a new framework that addresses students’ needs and preferences for learning Global English. According to the Adaptive Relatability Motivation Framework, learners should be provided with culturally less invasive, identitysafe and emotionally more accommodating learning environment, where they can become more engaged, autonomous and adaptive in their own learning processes. Thus, learners will be able to continually relate their needs, social spaces and motivations to the successful use of the target language. The framework’s concepts are summarized in four points that give a more pragmatic view on its use. These four points are further detailed, offering how these ideas can be implemented in an empirical fashion by educators and students.
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Learning a new language is a challenging task for many learners. However, it can be an exciting learning process based on several individual difference factors such as self-esteem, anxiety, tolerance of ambiguity, motivation, and attitudes. Thus, this paper focused at examining the attitudes of private college students in Saudi Arabia towards learning the English language for medical academic purposes as it highlights the differences between male and female learners’ attitudes towards learning English language. Relevant data was attained by employing survey questionnaires from a sample of 200 students selected from three private medical colleges that utilize the English language as a medium of instruction in Saudi Arabia. SPSS analysed the accumulated data. The findings dominantly revealed that students have positive attitudes toward learning the English language, especially if the materials are authentic and related to their respective medical areas of concentration and related to their future workplace. Moreover, the study disclosed that there was no significant difference in the learners’ attitudes toward English language learning based on gender. This study’s findings are highly recommended to EFL students, teachers, policymakers, and researchers who are interested in investigating linguistic-associated behaviours. The findings can additionally reinforce related studies or serve as framework for further research studies of the same nature.
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The students’ motivation in learning has been a crucial issue for many researchers so far. It is because motivation takes an important role to support the students’ learning achievement. Hence, motivation cannot be separated from the teaching and learning activities conducted by the EFL teachers. This current research was aimed at investigating the elements of the students’ motivation in joining the EFL virtual learning activities using the zoom application during the covid 19 pandemic. The research applied a qualitative descriptive approach. To collect the data, the researcher observed one elective class and interviewed some students from the class investigated. The results revealed that the students’ motivation was mostly influenced by the positive effect related to the learning situations created by the teacher when using the zoom application to conduct the teaching and learning activities. This also implied that the zoom application could lead the teachers to think of being creative in conducting the virtual teaching and learning activities.
The field’s current understanding of L2 motivation is largely reliant on explicit self- reports (e.g. questionnaires and interviews). While such means have provided the L2 motivation field with a wealth of understanding, the underlying assumptions are that such attitudes take place in a conscious manner and that such representations are adequate. Recent developments have discussed these limitations and have called for a more in-depth and holistic understanding of the motivational psyche of L2 learners (e.g. Al-Hoorie, 2016a; Dörnyei, 2020). This thesis seeks to address this research lacuna by arguing for the inclusion of an implicit dimension into L2 motivation research, using the case of Hong Kong as an illustration. This thesis is first made up of a systemic literature review which provided an empirical understanding of the unprecedented boom in published studies that occurred between 2005 – 2014. Studying the dataset that was made up of 416 publications allowed for an understanding of the L2 methodological and theoretical trends in the literature. While there were several key findings from this empirical review, specific to this thesis, the most significant lies in the identification of the lack of an implicit dimension in the field. Consequently, this shaped the premise for this thesis, namely to set forth the case for a subconscious dimension of L2 motivation research. The selection of Hong Kong as a research location was motivated by its unique linguistic landscape. In order to better understand the situation, a qualitative pilot study that sought to determine Hong Kong’s viability as a location for unconscious motivation research was carried out. The qualitative results show that indeed, Hong Kong is loaded with ethnolinguistic tension. Regarding the participants’ attitudes towards the three languages, Cantonese was found to be synonymous with the Hong Kong identity and English was seen as a superior language that was associated with prestige and professional opportunities. In comparison, Mandarin held little relevance to the participants’ everyday lives. Upon further investigation, it was found that Fear of Assimilation was the main reason behind the participants’ lacklustre attitudes towards Mandarin. Overall, this qualitative pilot study offered an insight into the complexities underscoring Hong Kong’s unique, and loaded, linguistic environment; confirming Hong Kong’s suitability as a research location for this implicit line of research.
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Emotions are one of the pillars of all human beings which can play a vital role in providing education. Emotions can affect all aspects of education. The feeling of creativity is one of the subsets of emotions. This feeling strongly affects the performance of education and the level of involvement of students. Student involvement has different aspects: social aspect; individual aspect, and emotional aspect. The present review shows that the emotional aspect of L2 engagement plays a pivotal role in the process of learning the language in English as a foreign language (EFL) and English as a second language (ESL) context. In dealing with the emotional aspect of teachers, the personal, social, and environmental aspects of the individual should be considered. The paper concludes with some pedagogical implications and provides some suggestions for future research.
A high temperature compression and compression creep study was undertaken performed on Al-Mn-Mg-Sc-Zr alloy produced by selective laser melting (SLM). High temperature compression tests in the temperature range from 150 to 300 °C were conducted for the as-fabricated (AF) and aged (HT) SLM specimens. The 0.2% proof stress (σ 0.2 ) showed comparable values at different loading directions, which reveal an isotropic mechanical behavior. σ 0.2 of the HT samples exceeded that of the AF at temperatures up to 200 °C. At 250 °C, σ 0.2 of AF surpasses that of HT, due to the interaction of solid solution strengthening above 0.5 of the homologous temperature and the formation of new precipitates in this temperature range. For AF and HT σ 0.2 becomes similar again at 300 °C. Creep tests were conducted at 250 °C in a stress range of 100–150 MPa. The Norton stress exponent was determined to (5.1 ± 0.2) indicating that creep is dislocation climb controlled. An activation energy for creep of (198 ± 11) kJ/mol was found. It is suggested that solid solution strengthening in conjunction with a dispersed L1 2 Al 3 Sc precipitates improved the creep resistance compared to conventionally cast-manufactured Al-Sc-Zr alloys.
This volume presents a new approach to motivation that focuses on the concept of 'vision'. Drawing on visualisation research in sports, psychology and education, the authors describe powerful ways by which imagining future scenarios in one's mind's eye can promote motivation to learn a foreign language. The book offers a rich selection of motivational strategies that can help students to 'see' themselves as potentially competent language users, to experience the value of knowing a foreign language in their own lives and, ultimately, to invest effort into learning it. Transformational leaders' vision for change is one of the prerequisites of turning language classrooms into motivating learning environments, and the second part of the book therefore focuses on how to ignite language teacher enthusiasm, how to re-kindle it when it may be waning and how to guard it when it is under threat.
This paper reports the first investigation in the second language acquisition field assessing learners’ implicit attitudes using the Implicit Association Test, a computerized reaction-time measure. Examination of the explicit and implicit attitudes of Arab learners of English (N = 365) showed that, particularly for males, implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers are associated with self-reported openness to the L2 group and with strength of correlations among attitudinal and motivational variables. Implicit attitudes also moderated important paths in the L2 Motivational Self System. The paper concludes that implicit attitudes seem to be a meaningful individual difference variable, adding a new dimension to our understanding of language motivation.
Dual-process models imply that automatic attitudes should be less flexible than their self-reported counterparts; the relevant empirical record, however, is mixed. To advance the debate, the authors conducted 4 experiments investigating how readily automatic preferences for one imagined social group over another could be induced or reversed. Experiments 1 and 2 revealed that automatic preferences, like self-reported ones, could be readily induced by both abstract supposition and concrete learning. In contrast, Experiments 3 and 4 revealed that newly formed automatic preferences, unlike self-reported ones, could not be readily reversed by either abstract supposition or concrete learning. Thus, the relative inflexibility of implicit attitudes appears to entail, not immunity to sophisticated cognition, nor resistance to swift formation, but insensitivity to modification once formed.