Cognitive Evaluation Theory
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The convergence of results reported in the last chapter represents an important step in understanding the impact of external events on people’s motivational processes. The research reviewed in that chapter focused primarily on the events themselves, the presence or absence of surveillance and the nature of the reward structure, for example, and explored their average effects on people’s motivation and on related variables. According to cognitive evaluation theory, however, the impact of an event on motivational processes is determined, not by the objective characteristics of the event, but rather by its psychological meaning for the individual. The perceived locus of causality and perceived competence are descriptors of a person’s experience with regard to a behavior, rather than a property of the environment. They reflect the individual’s organization of reality. Similarly, whether an event will be interpreted as informational, controlling, or amotivating is an issue of the relative salience of these aspects to the perceiver, and is affected by his or her sensitivities, background, agendas, as well as by the actual configuration of the event. In short, environmental events are affordances that are used by the perceiver in the internal construction of motivationally relevant inputs.
KeywordsPositive Feedback Intrinsic Motivation Interpersonal Communication Internal Locus Reward Structure
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