Undermining Intrinsic Motivation

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Bianca Lavorata


This paper will examine the possible effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation in Preschool to College students and argue that extrinsic rewards undermine intrinsic motivation. The Overjustification hypothesis by self-perception theory, as well as the cognitive evaluation theory (CET) will be discussed, including some of the benefits of self-motivation for learning. Various studies will be explored to show that extrinsic rewards reduce intrinsic motivation. Results suggest that students that are offered an extrinsic goal subsequently show less intrinsic interest and demonstrate poorer conceptual learning and performance in the long term. Alternately, students that are regulated by intrinsic motivations experience positive consequences at school. This paper will conclude on the note that intrinsic motivation plays a pivotal role in learning, and that teachers and other social agents can help promote intrinsic goals to motivate conceptual learning and performance, even when students hold a stronger extrinsic goal orientation. Finally, various factors that can enhance and develop intrinsic motivation will be discussed, and suggestions will be provided for further research on this topic.


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Lavorata, B. (2013). Undermining Intrinsic Motivation. SFU Educational Review, 6. https://doi.org/10.21810/sfuer.v6i.371