Interest as a Motivational Resource: Feedback and Gender Matter, but Interest Makes the Difference

Abstract

This study tested the hypothesis that interest in a certain topic enables children to sustain their intrinsic motivation in topic-related tasks when positive feedback is absent. Ninety-one Israeli children in the seventh grade completed a questionnaire assessing their interest in the topic of logic questions. Later, in individual sessions, children worked on logic questions, and either received positive feedback or no feedback on their performance. Then, they completed a questionnaire assessing their intrinsic motivation to participate in a similar task. As expected, children with a high level of interest reported more intrinsic motivation than did children not high on interest. Among children with moderate interest, absence of positive feedback was associated with decreased intrinsic motivation for boys, and increased motivation for girls. This gender-related pattern was interpreted as suggesting that girls with moderate interest perceived the positive feedback as an attempt to control them. The findings support the view that interest may serve as a personal resource that helps children to cope with non-optimal learning conditions.

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Correspondence to Idit Katz.

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Katz, I., Assor, A., Kanat-Maymon, Y. et al. Interest as a Motivational Resource: Feedback and Gender Matter, but Interest Makes the Difference. Soc Psychol Educ 9, 27–42 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-005-2863-7

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Keywords

  • Interest
  • feedback
  • intrinsic motivation
  • Gender differences