Research shows that Absolutism and counterfactual factor identifying how a post performance could have a post performance could have been better (e.g if only I had studied for the exam, would have gotten an A!) have been shown to increase effort and performance in future tasks. As a result of this, present work tends to examine the influence of absolutism and counterfactual factors student’s achievement motivation in Lagos state university.

            The study adopted a descriptive survey research design which to described and explained the conditions of the present by using many subject and questionnaire as it applied in this study. The sample consisted of 152 students of Lagos state university, faculty of education, department of social science education Lagos State, 80(52.6%) males and 72 (47.4%) females. Three instruments was used which include; percentage, analysis of variance and t-test. The data was subsequently subjected to multiple regression analysis. The study shows that there is a relationship between counterfactual factors, absolutism and academic achievement (R=0.58). The result also show that counterfactual factor and absolutism had a significant influence on student’s academic achievement (F(2,148)= 37.512, p < 0.05). Another result also show that absolutism ( t= 4.75, β= 0.41, P < 0.05) had significant relative influence on student achievement.

            The research findings show that there is a combined influence of absolutism and counterfactual factor on student academic achievement and also absolutism as a relative influence on student achievement.

            It is recommended that lecturers, parents and guardian should show concern for student’s low level of performance in their various courses being offered in the university.

Keywords: Absolutism, Counterfactual factor, and Achievement Motivation 



Title page                                                                                                                                i

Certification                                                                                                                iii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iv

Acknowledgement                                                                                                      v

Abstract                                                                                                                                  vi

Table of content                                                                                                                      vii


Background to the study                                                                                                        1

Statement of the problem                                                                                                       6

Purpose of the study                                                                                                   8

Research question                                                                                                                   8

Research hypothesis                                                                                                    8

Significant of the study                                                                                                          9

Definition of term                                                                                                                   10


Introduction                                                                                                                12

Concept of critical thinking disposition                                                                      13

Critical thinking disposition in relationship to Hidden Qualities                               13

Critical thinking disposition in Relationship to Inclinations, Sensitivities and Abilities                                                                                                                                14

What are tile critical thinking dispositions?                                                                16

The concept of motivation                                                                                          17

Type of motivation                                                                                                     17

The concept of Achievement Motivation                                                                   18

The concept of absolutism                                                                                          20

Influence of absolutism on student achievement motivation                         21

The concept of counterfactual thought                                                                       25

Factor influencing counterfactual thought on student achievement

motivation                                                                                                                               25


Introduction                                                                                                                33

Research design                                                                                                                      33

Population                                                                                                                               33

Sample and sampling procedure                                                                                 33

Research instrument                                                                                                    34

Validity of the instrument                                                                                          35

Reliability of the instrument                                                                                       35

Data collection                                                                                                                        35

Data analysis                                                                                                               35


Result                                                                                                                                     36

Discussion                                                                                                                               39



Summary                                                                                                                                 40

Conclusion                                                                                                                              42

Recommendations                                                                                                                  44

References                                                                                                                              46

Appendix                                                                                                                                49



1.0       Background of the study

Globally, there has been an increasing concern in the Education sector on how to ensure that students learn optimally at school and achieve academic excellence in their academic pursuit. In Nigeria, there has been a nationwide cry on the fallen standards of education. Various factors have been identified for low achievement motivation among students and these include poor study habit, laziness, ineffective classroom instructions and inadequate provision of needs among others (Akpan, 2000). It has been noticed that some students in the universities do not pay attention to what their lecturer is doing as they are easily caught engaged in other activities. Jones (2008) observes that it is easy to see students slouched in their chairs and not listening to their lecturer or participating in the lecture discussion which portrays lack of engagement. Motivating students to learn in higher institution is a topic of great concern for educationist today and motivating students so that they can succeed in their achievement motivation is one of the greatest challenges of this century (Awan, Noureen and Nas,2011). According to the authors, lack of motivation is a big hurdle in learning and a pertinent cause in the deterioration of education student standards. Getting students to learn and sustaining their interest in what they are learning therefore should be the sole objective of the lecturer in universities, family, friends and neighborhood.

Thinking about the past offers the opportunity to evaluate our progress towards important goals, improve upon past mistakes, and learn about our personal strengths and weaknesses. Imagine the absolutism and counterfactual thought of a student who has just learned of a poor grade on an exam. Perhaps the student would say to him or herself “if I had studied, I would have passed the test” or “if I hadn’t been sick and missed so many classes, the test would have been easy.” This counterfactual thought such as these identify how an outcome could have been better, and are strongly evoked by difficulties that arise during goal pursuit (Epstude&Roese, 2008). Because these thoughts identify factors that hindered a past performance, they have important consequences for future goal-directed action. Consistent with this view, past work has shown that counterfactual thinking facilitates the formation of future intentions (Smallman&Roese, 2009), increases self-efficacy (Tal-Or, Boninger, &Gleicher, 2004), and improves task performance (Roese, 1994) and reasonableness, reflection, and the process of making decisions. For instance, the failing student, thinking “if I had studied, I would have passed the test” may reflect disappointment and increase intentions to change one’s behavior. Alternatively, the very same thought may suggest an excuse for a performance that would otherwise be attributed to a lack of ability. In this case, there would be little incentive for the student to change his or her behavior. Our research was designed to test whether overarching self-evaluation motivations moderate the consequences of counterfactual thoughts for subsequent preparatory effort and performance in this manner.

In universities, absolutism and counterfactual are known as an important component of educational system which influence achievement motivation in education student (Mazinani, 2001). This has played an important role in increasing achievement motivation of education student to strive for higher learning. Lack of family, neighborhood and institution lecturers’ motivation will result on low academic achievement, it is imperative to pay attention on how this agent motivates the student.

Purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidence, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based (Ige, 2016). Counterfactual thought is essential as a tool of inquiry. This is a liberating force in education and a powerful resource in student personal and civic life. While not synonymous with good thinking, absolutism and counterfactual is a pervasive and self-rectifying human phenomenon. An ideal thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit. Thus, educating good student thinkers means working toward this ideal. It combines developing absolute and counterfactual skills with nurturing those dispositions which consistently yield useful insights and which are the basis of a rational and democratic society.

In the view of Rencher (1992), every educators needs to be concerned about motivation. It is a quality that students, teacher, lecturers, parents, institution administrators and other members of the community must have iff our educational system is to prepare young graduate adequately for challenges and demand of the coming century. Of course, the ways these various group of individuals generate and use motivation differs greatly. Student need motivation to learn, parent need it to track the educational progress of their son and daughters, lecturers and teacher need it to become better lecturers and teacher and institution administrator need it to ensure that every facet of the institution they manage continue to improve.

Woolfolk (2001) defined motivation as an internal state that arouses, maintains and directs behavior. Motivation is the process whereby goal directed activity is begun and sustained (Pintrich&Schunk, 2002).Student  actual achievement behaviour depends not only on their motivation to achieve but also on whether they expect to achieve and whether they fear failure. Students are more likely to work hard when they perceive a reasonable chance to succeed than when they perceive a goal to be out of reach (Atkinson, 1964). Undergraduate  expectations of success can be measured by asking them to predict a certain grade, indicate how sure they are that they can solve a particular problem, and select the hardest task they think they can do from a collection of tasks varying by degree of difficulty (Philips, 1987).

In the effort to improve the education student counterfactual thought and absolutism, outcomes in various course of learning, educational psychologist and educationist, have continued to search for variables(personal and environmental) that could be manipulated in favour of academic gains. Of all the personal and psychological variables that have attracted researchers in this area of achievement motivation, motivation seems to be gaining more popularity and leading to other variables (Tella, 2003).


The issues of absolutism and counterfactual factor influencing education student achievement motivation are considered as an important aspect of effective learning. However, undergraduate reaction to education determines the extent to which he or she will go in education. The influence of absolutism and counterfactual on education students’ cannot be undermined. That is why Hall (1989) believe that there is need to motivate student so as to arouse and sustain their interest in learning. Student could therefore, form psychologists’ point of view, be seen as socially and academically motivated depending on the motive behind his or her activities.


The factor influencing absolutism and counterfactual thinking in education student achievement motivation in Lagos state university has become a sensitive issue that needs urgent attention. It has been observed that the issue is affecting the achievement motivation of students in higher institution adversely. It has also been discovered that reasonableness, reflection, and the process of making decisions has cause a problem to students achievement motivation in universities. This hidden quality of dispositions is a problem that must be faced by attempts to assess counterfactual thinking and absolutism.

Although most experts agreed that counterfactual thinking is an important component, they disagreed on the particular role of counterfactual thinking on achievement motivation of the university’s student. Arguing that absolutism and counterfactual thinking have merely a laudatory role, and others maintaining that it also have a normative role on achievement motivation of student (Facione, 1990).

Students thought that it was more likely that a past event could occur in the future, and bring about the same outcome it did in the past, than it was for past events to have a different outcome from the one that actually occurred. This effect was more pronounced for episodic future thoughts with positive outcomes relative to episodic counterfactual thoughts with alternative negative outcomes.  This direct comparison of judgments of subjective probability between absolutism and counterfactual simulations is consistent with prospection and counterfactual thinking. For example, studies of future thinking have shown that people tend to overestimate the likelihood of positive events happening in the future relative to negative events (Sharot, Riccardi, Raio, & Phelps, 2007; Weinstein, 1980)

Counterfactual and absolutism has been linked in numerous studies to causal reasoning (Branscombe et al., 2003; Mandel, 2003; Mandel & Lehman, 1996; Wells &Gavanski, 1989). Furthermore, past research has shown that the locus of counterfactual mutation affects judgments of blame (Branscombe et al., 2003; Creyer&Guerhan, 1997), regret (Sevdalis&Kokkinaki, 2006), and emotion (Niedenthal et al., 1994). The present research extends these findings, showing that counterfactual thoughts also influence subsequent self-esteem and that stability of the mutated factor moderates these effects. Specifically, counterfactuals concerning unstable causes, such as a lack of effort, protected self-esteem following a negative performance (see also Covington &Omelich, 1979; McCrea &Hirt, 2001; Rhodewalt et al., 1991; Weiner, 1985). It is important to note that, although these effects are consistent with models of attribution, the consequences of counterfactuals for state selfesteem appeared to be independent of causal attributions, supporting past work showing that they are related yet independent processes (Mandel, 2003; Mandel & Lehman, 1996).


The purpose of carrying out this research is to analyze the influence of absolutism and counterfactual on education students of Lagos state university, Ojo, Lagos state. Apparently this research is to provide stronger evidence for absolutism and counterfactual as a subsequent

motivation to improve student academic achievement.



The following questions will be provided answer in the course of this research work.

  1. What is the combined influence of counterfactual factor and absolutism on students’ academic achievement?
  2. What is the relative influence of absolutism and counterfactual factor on students’ achievement?


Ho1:     There is no significant relationship between absolutism and student achievement    motivation.

HI1:     There is significant relationship between absolutism and student achievement motivation.

Ho2:     There is no significant relationship between counterfactual and student achievement          motivation.

HI2:     There is no significant relationship between counterfactual and student achievement          motivation.


Underestimating the probability of a negative outcome having occurred instead of an actual positive outcome may also reflect this optimism bias, but in a more intricate way. Previous research has shown that  counterfactuals (i.e., thinking of outcomes that are evaluated better than actual ones) are generated more frequently, effortlessly, and tend to produce greater emotional  impact  Heath, Larrick, & Wu, 1999; Roese& Olson, (1997). It has been suggested that counterfactuals serve a preparatory function, insofar as they allow us to think of possible, yet non-actualized, better alternatives for future action while absolutism focus attention on the adherence to the principle of the thought of content been beneficial to the student. The content-specific pathway involves the identification of corrective actions( Smallman&Roese, 2009).

Specifically, it could be that contemplating possible, yet non-actualized, negative alternatives as being more unlikely than positive ones could motivate us to think that they are also less likely to reoccur in the future. However, there is another possible explanation. A series of recent studies suggest that people sometimes engage in counterfactual thinking in order to find ‘‘meaning’’ in life (Galinsky, Ku, &Wang, 2005; Kray et al., 2010). Specifically, when people think of alternative ways in which experienced events could have occurred, they tend to increase their sense that such events had to happen in their life—as though they were meant to be.

A number of studies have shown that absolutism and counterfactual have played a dominant role towards academics pursuit of education student. Researches carried out by some researchers have tremendously improved the knowledge about the motive to achieve (Gesinde 2000)


This research work has delimited as a result of difficulty to study the extent through which the motivation are being pass across to the student. Also the study does not take into consideration how self-evaluation motive moderate the behavior consequences of counterfactual.



Absolutism refers to the claim that there exists a universally valid moral system, which applies to everyone whether they realize it or not.


This refers to a liberating force in education and a powerful resource in student personal and civic life.


Education is danterencana conscious effort to create an atmosphere of learning and the learning process so that learners actively developing the potential for him to memilikikekuatan religious spiritual, self-control, personality, intelligence, noble character and the skills needed themselves and society (National education law, 2003)


Student achievement:

Student achievement measures the amount of academic content a student learns in a determined amount of time.


Moula (2010) observes that motivation is one of the factors that contribute to academic success; that parents and educators should strive to understand the importance of promoting and encouraging academic motivation early in life.

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