The Multifaceted Role of Interest in Motivation and Engagement
In this chapter, we review research demonstrating the role of interest in motivation and engagement. First, we discuss the psychological experience of interest, examining how attention and affect shift during a state of interest. Here, studies suggest that, on the one hand, interest is often associated with narrowed attention, eliciting focused engagement, such as when one experiences a state of flow. On the other hand, interest is also linked to broadened attention, eliciting exploratory engagement. We then discuss the implicit theories people hold about interests—whether interests are believed to be inherent and fixed versus able to develop and grow. Recent research suggests that believing interests are developed (vs. fixed) increases interest in new areas and enables people to respond adaptively to motivational challenges by buffering them against a loss of interest when a new activity becomes difficult. Next we review research on how interest affects task performance and persistence, and consider the roles of focused and exploratory modes of engagement. Finally, we examine interest as an outcome of engagement, discussing processes ranging from cognitive dissonance to social interactions. Together, the research reviewed in this chapter converges to highlight the multiple means by which interest is powerfully linked to human motivation and engagement.
KeywordsAffect Attention Engagement Goals Implicit theories Interest Motivation
We thank Gabriel Ibasco for his contributions to this manuscript.
- Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2004). Self-regulation of action and affect. Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications, 13–39.Google Scholar
- Csíkszentmihályi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal performance. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Csíkszentmihályi, M., Abuhamdeh, S., & Nakamura, J. (2005). In A. Elliot & C. Dweck (Eds.), Flow. Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 598–623). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Harackiewicz, J. M., Barron, K. E., Tauer, J. M., & Elliot, A. J. (2002). Predicting success in college: A longitudinal study of achievement goals and ability measures as predictors of interest and performance from freshman year through graduation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(3), 562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Harackiewicz, J. M., Durik, A. M., Barron, K. E., Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., & Tauer, J. M. (2008). The role of achievement goals in the development of interest: Reciprocal relations between achievement goals, interest, and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(1), 105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Izard, C. E., & Ackerman, B. P. (2000). Motivational, organizational, and regulatory functions of discrete emotions. In M. Lewis & J. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (2nd ed., pp. 253–322). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- James, W. (1950). The principles of psychology. (Vols. 2). New York: Dover. (Original work published 1890).Google Scholar
- Miller, W. I. (1998). The anatomy of disgust. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- O’Keefe, P. A., Dweck, C. S., & Walton, G. M. (2015). Implicit theories of interest. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management. Vancouver, BC.Google Scholar
- Renninger, K. A., & Hidi, S. (2016). The power of interest for motivation and learning. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Sansone, C., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: The search for optimal motivation and performance. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Schiefele, U., Krapp, A., & Winteler, A. (1992). Interest as a predictor of academic achievement: A meta-analysis of research. In K. A. Renninger, S. Hidi, & A. Krapp (Eds.), The role of interest in learning and development (pp. 183–211). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar