Experiments on factors affecting intrinsic motivation have generally inferred intrinsic motivation from subjects' engagement in a target activity during a “free-choice period” when external contingencies are no longer operative. However, internally controlling regulation is a form of internal motivation that is very different from intrinsic motivation and can underlie free-choice-period activity. This paper presents three experiments concerned with differentiating internally controlling from intrinsically motivated persistence in situations where ego-involved vs. task-involved subjects had received positive vs. nonconfirming (or no) performance feedback. The first experiment showed that ego-involved (relative to task-involved) subjects displayed less free-choice persistence when they received positive feedback, whereas the second experiment showed that ego-involved (relative to task-involved) subjects displayed more free-choice persistence when they received nonconfirming feedback. In both experiments, however, it was shown that ego-involved subjects did not report the expected affective correlates of intrinsic motivation—namely, interest/enjoyment and perceived choice—whereas task-involved subjects did. In the third experiment, as predicted, ego-involved subjects tended to show less free-choice persistence than task-involved subjects when they received positive performance feedback but greater free-choice persistence when they received no performance feedback. The problem of distinguishing intrinsically motivated activity from internally controlled behavior is discussed.
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Preparation of this manuscript was facilitated by research grant HD19914 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Human Motivation Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Rochester and by a grant from Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et L'Aide a la Recherche (FCAR-Quebec) to Richard Koestner. We thank Robert E. Driver, Robert W. Plant, Loretta J. Tallon, and Joseph E. Tomassone for help with data collection and analyses.
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Ryan, R.M., Koestner, R. & Deci, E.L. Ego-involved persistence: When free-choice behavior is not intrinsically motivated. Motiv Emot 15, 185–205 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00995170
- Social Psychology
- Motivate Activity
- Positive Feedback
- Intrinsic Motivation
- Positive Performance