Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 77–95

Intrinsic and extrinsic school motivation as a function of age: the mediating role of autonomy support

  • Nicolas Gillet
  • Robert J. Vallerand
  • Marc-André K. Lafrenière


The main purpose of the present research was to investigate school intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and amotivation as a function of age in a sample of 1,600 elementary and high school students aged 9–17 years. First, results revealed a systematic decrease in intrinsic motivation and self-determined extrinsic motivation from age 9 to 12 years, a slow stabilization until 15 years old, followed by an increase after that point. Second, non self-determined extrinsic motivation showed a decrease up to 12 years old and a slow stabilization after that point. Finally, amotivation was relatively low and stable from age 9 to 17 years. Of importance is that the present results also revealed that teacher autonomy support mediated the age-school motivation relationships. The present results underscore the importance of a better understanding of the mechanisms through which lower intrinsic motivation and self-determined extrinsic motivation in older students take place, eventually leading to appropriate interventions and optimal motivation in students of all ages.


Age Motivation Autonomy support Self-determination theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas Gillet
    • 1
  • Robert J. Vallerand
    • 2
  • Marc-André K. Lafrenière
    • 2
  1. 1.Département de PsychologieUniversité François Rabelais - Tours, U.F.R. Arts et Sciences HumainesTours Cedex 1France
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Comportement SocialUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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