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Effects of individualist and collectivist group norms and choice on intrinsic motivation

Abstract

Previous research suggests that the positive effect of personal choice on intrinsic motivation is dependent on the extent to which the pervading cultural norm endorses individualism or collectivism (Iyengar and Lepper in J Pers Soc Psychol 76:349–366, 1999). The present study tested effects of personal choice on intrinsic motivation under situationally-induced individualist and collectivist group norms. An organizational role-play scenario was used to manipulate individualist and collectivist group norms in participants from a homogenous cultural background. Participants then completed an anagram task under conditions of personal choice or when the task was either assigned to them by an in-group (company director) or out-group (experimenter) social agent. Consistent with hypotheses, when the group norm prescribed individualism participants in the personal choice condition exhibited greater intrinsic motivation. When the group norm prescribed collectivism, participants’ assigned to the task by the company director were more intrinsically motivated. The implications of results for theories of intrinsic motivation are discussed.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Experimental cell n = 35 per condition with relatively equal gender distribution in each condition. Full sample size and gender distribution is available in Appendix A, Table 1 as online supplemental material.

  2. 2.

    The key dependent variable, time spent on the anagrams during the free-choice period, was non-normal and U-shaped in distribution as observed elsewhere (Wiechman and Gurland 2009). We therefore conducted a square-root transformation (McClelland 2000) of the persistence data and repeated our analysis to check that the findings on the raw scores were affected by departures from normality. The analysis revealed an identical pattern of effects to those found using the raw scores. A breakdown of the effects for the analysis using the transformed scores is provided in Appendix B as online supplemental material.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Emma Mills for her assistance with data collection. This research was conducted in partial fulfilment of Panagiotis Rentzelas’ doctoral dissertation.

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Correspondence to Martin S. Hagger.

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Hagger, M.S., Rentzelas, P. & Chatzisarantis, N.L.D. Effects of individualist and collectivist group norms and choice on intrinsic motivation. Motiv Emot 38, 215–223 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-013-9373-2

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Keywords

  • Self-determination theory
  • Group norms
  • Identified regulation
  • Internalization
  • Free-choice paradigm
  • Culture