Gang violence is a pressing problem and studying it would lead to a better understanding of how gangs are formed and why they become violent. Gangs are difficult to study because there is no single definition of what gangs are and the violent behaviors that are attributed to them are varied and come in different forms. As interesting and worthwhile this project is, it is with due effort and perseverance that this project could come into completion. For one, the process of identifying target groups for the project is almost impossible to do since gangs have been known to be secretive and invisible. Then, the idea of studying violence also is a daunting task as it has different vantage points from which it can be explored and finding the best possible aspect that would be more useful and can answer the objectives of the project will be a challenge.Psychology has long concerned itself with the study of what motivates people to do the things that they do. Motivation is the driving force of human behavior and it has been synonymous with needs and goals.
One of the motivation theories that have been used to study human behavior is called the achievement goal theory. The theory says that an individual is motivated by the goals that he/she has set to accomplish as well as how they perform to reach that goal. It is composed of mastery goals, performance approach and performance avoidance (Elliot & McGregor, 2001).
Mastery goals refer to intrapersonal goals like to understand, to become competent and to learn skills. Performance approach refer to the desire of the individual to become better than others while performance-avoidance refers to the need to avoid being worse than others.When I think of how I could finish this project and how to deal effectively with the task, I look to the achievement goal theory (Nicholls, 1984).
Personally, I want to understand gangs and why people associated with gangs are more prone to engage in violent behavior than as individuals. The topic is relevant to our times more than ever and I wanted to have a more in-depth understanding of what it is. By doing so I would be able to derive ideas that would generate interventions and programs for the specific group I want to study. I could say that I am operating on goal mastery; I do not want to do this project because I want to be better than others who have done the same study before me.
I also do not want to finish this project because I am afraid to be called mediocre and ineffective but because I really want to learn how to do a research study, to gain a deeper appreciation of the dynamics in gangs and to at least understand violent behaviors.Goal mastery has more positive implications since it would mean that the person behaves in certain ways because of much more intrinsic and personal reasons and it is for growth and self-actualization. On the other hand, performance-approach and avoidance are concerned with social comparisons which are external and superficial (Midgley, Kaplan & Middleton, 2001). Operating on social comparisons as a motive can be enough to get through the project but the feeling of accomplishing a goal because it hallmarks an achievement by mastering a skill or task that is personally gratifying is what learning and training is about.