The impact of task difficulty expectations on intrinsic motivation
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Two studies investigated expectations of task difficulty induced prior to task involvement and their impact upon an individual's subsequent intrinsic interest. Expectations of task difficulty were manipulated through easy/hard instructions by the experimenters. Interest, but not performance, varied as function of expected task difficulty, with “easy” eliciting greater interest than “hard” instructions. The generality of this finding was supported by its demonstration in studies utilizing different experimenters (male, female), subject populations (children, college), and tasks (perceptual-motor, cognitive).
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