The relation of mothers′ controlling vocalizations to children′s intrinsic motivation

  • Deci E
  • Driver R
  • Hotchkiss L
 et al. 
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Twenty-six mother-child dyads played together in a laboratory setting. Play sessions were surreptitiously videotaped (with mothers′ permission), and each maternal vocalization was transcribed and coded, first into 1 of 24 categories and then ipso facto into one of three supercategories-namely, controlling, autonomy supportive, and neutral. The degree of mothers′ controllingness was calculated as the percentage of vocalizations coded as controlling. This index was correlated with the intrinsic motivation of their 6- or 7-year-old children, as assessed primarily by the free-choice behavioral measure and secondarily by a child self-report measure of interest and liking for the task. Both correlations were significantly negative, thereby suggesting that the robust laboratory findings of a negative relation between controlling contexts and individuals′ intrinsic motivation are directly generalizable to the domain of parenting. Results are discussed in terms of the processes that undermine intrinsic motivation and the means through which parental controllingness is communicated. © 1993 by Academic Press, Inc.

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  • Edward L. Deci

  • Robert E. Driver

  • Lucinda Hotchkiss

  • Robert J. Robbins

  • Ilona Mc Dougal Wilson

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