The paper reviews traditional attributional explanations for the over-justification effect in task motivation, isolates their weaknesses, and proposes an alternative account based on the notion that individuals process task information schematically. It is proposed that task information relating to motivation is interpreted by cognitive schema or “templates,” which identify tasks as being either instrumental or expressive in nature. When the expressive template is evoked, the task is perceived to be playlike and is experienced as inherently motivating. When the instrumental template is evoked, the task is perceived as a means to an end and task motivation results from the perceived value of the task for attaining intrinsic and/or extrinsic rewards. Structural characteristics of these templates are proposed. According to this account, overjustification effects occur when the perceived characteristics of tasks change such that the expressive template is replaced by the instrumental template and expressive motivation is transformed into instrumental motivation.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abelson, R. P. Script processing in attitude formation and decision making. In J. S. Carroll & J. W. Payne (Eds.),Cognition and social behavior. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1976.
Anderson, R., Manoogian, S. T., & Resnick, J. S. The undermining and enhancing of intrinsic motivation in preschool children.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1976,34 915–922.
Arnheim, R.Art and visual perception. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954.
Arnold, H. J. Effects of performance feedback and extrinsic reward upon high intrinsic motivation.Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 1976,17 275–288.
Bartlett, F. C.Remembering. London: Cambridge University Press, 1932.
Bateson, G.Steps to an ecology of mind. New York: Ballantine Books, 1972.
Beach, F. A. Current concepts of play in animals.American Naturalist 1945,79 523–541.
Bem, D. Self-perception theory. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 6). New York: Academic Press, 1972.
Berlyne, D. E. Laughter, humor and play. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.),Handbook of social psychology. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1968.
Blauner, B.Alienation and freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964.
Brief, A. P., & Aldag, R. J. The intrinsic-extrinsic dichotomy: Toward conceptual clarity.Academy of Management Review 1977,2 496–500.
Bruner, J. S. Nature and uses of immaturity. In K. Connolly & J. S. Bruner (Eds.),The growth of competence. New York: Academic Press, 1974.
Caillois, R.Man, play and games. New York: Free Press, 1961.
Calder, B. J. Endogenous-exogenous versus internal-external attributions: Implications for the development of attribution theory.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 1977,3 400–406.
Calder, B. J., & Staw, B. M. The interaction of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: Some methodological notes.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1975,31 76–80.
Child, I. L., & Waterhouse, J. K. Frustration and the quality of performance: A critique of the Barker, Dembo and Lewin experiment.Psychological Review 1952,59 351–361.
Csikszentmihalyi, M.Flow: Studies of enjoyment (PHS Grant Report-22883-02). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.
DeCharms, R.Personal causation: The internal affective determinants of behavior. New York: Academic Press, 1968.
Deci, E. L. The effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1971,18 105–115.
Deci, E. L. The effects of contingent and noncontingent rewards and controls on intrinsic motivation.Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 1972,8 217–229.
Deci, E. L.Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum, 1975.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. The empirical exploration of intrinsic motivational processes. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 13). New York: Academic Press, 1981.
Dewey, J. Play. InCyclopedia of education. New York: Macmillan, 1925.
Erikson, E. H.Childhood and society. New York: Norton, 1950.
Fiske, D. W., & Maddi, S. R.Functions of varied experience. Homewood, Illinois: Dorsey Press, 1961.
Folger, R., Rosenfield, D., & Hays, P. Equity and intrinsic motivation: The role of choice.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1978,36 557–564.
Greene, D., & Lepper, M. R. Effects of extrinsic rewards on children's subsequent interest.Child Development 1974,45 1141–1145.
Groos, K.The play of man. New York: Appleton, 1901.
Guzzo, R. A. Types of rewards, conditions and work motivation.Academy of Management Review 1979,4(1), 75–86.
Harackiewicz, J. M. The effects of reward contingency and performance feedback on intrinsic motivation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1979,37 1352–1361.
Heider, F.The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley, 1958.
Huizinga, J.Homo ludens. Boston: Beacon Press, 1950.
Kelley, H. H. Attribution theory in social psychology. In D. Levine (Ed.),Nebraska symposium on motivation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967.
Koch, S. Behavior as “intrinsically” regulated: Work notes toward a pretheory of phenomena called motivational. In M. R. Jones (Ed.),Nebraska symposium on motivation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1956.
Kruglanski, A. W. The endogenous-exogenous partition in attribution theory.Psychological Review 1975,82 387–406.
Kruglanski, A. W., Riter, A., Amitai, A., Margolin, B., Shabtai, L., & Zaksh, D. Can money enhance intrinsic motivation? A test of the content-consequence hypothesis.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1975,31 744–750.
Kusyszyn, I. How gambling saved me from a misspent sabbatical.Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Summer 1977,17(3).
Langer, E. J. Rethinking the role of thought in social interaction. In J. Harvey, W. Ickes, & R. Kidd (Eds.),New directions in attribution research (Vol. 2). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1978.
Langer, E. J., Blank, A., & Chanowitz, B. The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of “placebo” information in interpersonal interaction.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1978,36 635–642.
Langer, S. K.Philosophy in a new key. Cambridge: Harvard, 1942.
Langer, S. K.Mind: An essay on human feeling. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1975.
Lepper, M. R., & Greene, D. Turning play into work: Effects of adult surveillance and extrinsic rewards on children's intrinsic motivation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1975,31 479–486.
Lepper, M. R., & Greene, D. On understanding “overjustification”: A reply to Reiss and Sushinsky.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1976,33 25–35.
Lepper, M. R., & Greene, D. (Eds.).The hidden costs of reward. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1978.
Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E. Undermining children's intrinsic interest with extrinsic rewards: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1973,28 129–137.
Lepper, M. R., Sagotsky, G. DaFoe, J. L., & Greene, D. Consequences of superfluous social constraints: Effects on young children's social inferences and subsequent intrinsic interest.Jouranl of Personality and Social Psychology 1982,42(1), 51–65.
Levy, J.Play behavior. New York: Wiley, 1978.
Lewin, K.The conceptual representation and the measurement of psychological forces. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1938.
Mawhinney, T. C. Intrinsic-extrinsic and motivation: Perspectives of behaviorism.Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 1979,24 411–440.
McDougall, W.Physiological psychology. New York: Macmillan, 1908.
Merton, R. K.On theoretical sociology. New York: Free Press, 1967.
Miller, S. Ends, means, galumphing: Some leitmotifs of play.American Anthropologist 1973,75(1), 87–98.
Moreland, R. L., & Zajonc, R. B. Is stimulus recognition a necessary condition for the occurrence of exposure effects?Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1977,35 191–199.
Moreland, R. L., & Zajonc, R. B. Exposure effects may not depend on stimulus recognition.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1979,37 1085–1089.
Neff, W. S.Work and human behavior. Chicago: Aldine, 1968.
Neisser, U.Cognition and reality. San Francisco: Freeman, 1976.
Nisbett, R. E., & Valins, S. Perceiving the causes of one's own behavior. In E. E. Jones, D. Kanouse, H. Kelley, R. Nisbett, S. Valins, & R. Weiner,Attribution: Perceiving the causes of behavior. Morristown, New Jersey: General Learning Press, 1971.
Notz, W. W. Work motivation and the negative effects of extrinsic rewards: A review with implications for theory and practice.American Psychologist 1975,30 884–891.
Peak, H. Attitude and motivation. In M. P. Jones (Ed.),Nebraska symposium on motivation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1955. Pp. 149–188.
Perry, D. G., Bussey, K., & Redman, J. Reward-induced decreased play effects. Reattribution of motivation competency responses or avoiding frustration.Child Development 1977,48 1369–1374.
Piaget, J.Play, dreams and imitation in childhood. New York: Norton, 1962.
Pinder, C. C. Additivity versus non-additivity of intrinsic and extrinsic incentive: Implications for work motivation, performance and attitudes.Journal of Applied Psychology 1976,61(6), 693–700.
Pritchard, R. O., Campbell, K. M., & Campbell, D. J. Effects of extrinsic financial rewards on intrinsic motivation.Journal of Applied Psychology 1977,62 9–15.
Reiss, S., & Sushinsky, L. W. Overjustification, competing responses, and the acquisition of intrinsic interest.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1975,31 1116–1125.
Reiss, S., & Sushinsky, L. W. The competing response hypothesis of decreased play effects: A reply to Lepper and Greene.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1976,33 233–244.
Rosch, E. Principles of categorization. In E. Rosch & B. Lloyd (Eds.),Cognition and categorization. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1978.
Rosenberg, M. H. Cognitive structure and attitudinal affect.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1956,53 367–372.
Ross, M. Salience of reward and intrinsic motivation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1975,32 245–254.
Sandelands, L. E., Ashford, S. A., Dutton, J. E., & Hinton, R.Reconceptualizing over-justification effects in terms of human play. Unpublished manuscript, Northwestern University, 1980.
Scott, W. E. The effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation.Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 1976,15 117–129.
Skinner, B. F.Science and human behavior. New York: Macmillan, 1953.
Staw, B. M., Calder, B. J., Hess, R. K., & Sandelands, L. E. Intrinsic motivation and norms about payment.Journal of Personality 1980,48 1–15.
Turnage, J. J., & Muchinsky, P. M. The effects of reward contingency and participative decision making on intrinsically and extrinsically motivating tasks.Academy of Management Journal 1976,19 482–489.
Vroom, V. H.Work and motivation. New York: Wiley, 1964.
Watson, J. B.Behaviorism. New York: Norton, 1924.
Weiner, M. J., & Mander, A. M. The effects of reward and perception of competency upon intrinsic motivation.Motivation and Emotion 1978,2 67–73.
Weisler, A., & McCall, R. B., Exploration and play.American Psychologist 1976,31 492–508.
White, R. W., Motivation reconsidered: The concept of competence.Psychological Review 1959,66 297–333.
Wilson, W. R. Feeling more than we can know: Exposure effects without learning.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1979,37 811–821.
Zajonc, R. B. Feeling and thinking.American Psychologist 1980,35 151–175.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments of Jeanne Brett, L. L. Cummings, James Larson, Joseph Moag, Alice Tybout, and an anonymous reviewer in the preparation of this manuscript.
About this article
Cite this article
Sandelands, L.E., Ashford, S.J. & Dutton, J.E. Reconceptualizing of the overjustification effect: A template-matching approach. Motiv Emot 7, 229–255 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00991675
- Structural Characteristic
- Social Psychology
- Task Motivation
- Cognitive Schema
- Alternative Account