Competence, achievement orientation, and intrinsic motivation: A process analysis.
In this study the process through which competence information affects intrinsic motivation was examined. It was predicted that performance cues that differed in terms of objectivity and timing during task performance would affect task interest differentially. It was also hypothesized that the effects of competence information would vary according to achievement orientation. Three sources of competence information were manipulated in an experiment in which subjects worked on an interesting word game. Before performance, two types of information were provided: (a) an expectancy for success and (b) an objective standard for average performance. Normative feedback was provided after task completion. The effects of these cues on self-efficacy and task interest were generally consistent with Bandura's (1982a)self-efficacy model of intrinsic motivation. Objective information provided before the activity was optimal in enhancing self-efficacy and interest for all subjects. High achievers responded positively to competence cues, whereas cues providing positive feedback about ability reduced interest for low achievers. The results of a path analytic process analysis indicated that mediational structures also varied according to achievement orientation. Competence information enhanced high achievers' valuation of competence, which in turn had a positive causal impact on subsequent intrinsic motivation. In contrast, efficacy expectations mediated increases in intrinsic motivation for low achievers. We discuss the implications of these data for current theories of intrinsic motivation and the need for a broader perspective concerning the effects of competence on task interest.