…appreciate what you can; love what you can make; favor what you may achieve: see here a few amalgamations of affect and competence. Liking and performing, two realms when closely connected can do miracles. Simply because it sets in motion flow (1) i.e., the experience of happiness in doing things that challenge your abilities in a positive manner. It can happen while cooking when you try out a new self-made recipe, or in sports attempting to run far more than you normally do. It is definitely different from joy of success; it is the great feeling of doing what you do the right way. Not the accomplishment is what counts here but travelling the road (2). Achievements have a relation with competence but really wanting to accomplish something has to do with affect, with wanting to produce an effect – but can they be separated? A recent study affirms this.
The study found that student affective self-perceptions relate to the effort while student competence self-perceptions were related to objective achievements and less associated with student eagerness to invest in their academic behavior. Liking and enjoyment predicted their effort in school work, not their competence beliefs.
What seems to be implied here is that competence and affect travel on different roads. But still that seems a bit strange and counter intuitive. Isn’t it far more plausible that the merger between the two produce the power of learning? Because: competence without affect is idle while affect without competence is folly (to paraphrase Kant). Imagine a highly talented, competent pupil working a learning task well within her or his competent reach wouldn’t he or she be bored as hell doing that learning work? Where is the challenge, the incentive to learn? So ‘more research is needed’. Meanwhile we are better off with the assumption that competence cannot do without affect and vice versa.
- Katrin Arens & Marcus Hasselhorn Differentiation of competence and affect self-perceptions in elementary school students: extending empirical evidence Eur J Psychol Educ (2015) 30:405–419