Competence, achievement orientation, and intrinsic motivation: A process analysis

by Judith M Harackiewicz, Carol Sansone, George Manderlink
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ()


Three sources of competence information were manipulated in an experiment in which 120 male 15–18 yr olds worked on a word game, after being given an expectancy for success and an objective standard for average performance, to investigate the process through which competence information affects intrinsic motivation. It was predicted that performance cues that differed in terms of objectivity and timing during task performance would affect task interest differentially and that the effects of competence information would vary according to achievement orientation. Normative feedback was provided after task completion. Results show that the effects of the cues on self-efficacy and task interest were generally consistent with A. Bandura's (1982) self-efficacy model of intrinsic motivation. Objective information provided before the game was optimal in enhancing self-efficacy and interest for all Ss. High achievers responded positively to competence cues, whereas cues providing positive feedback about ability reduced interest for low achievers. Path analytic process analysis indicated that mediational structures also varied according to achievement orientation. Competence information enhanced high achievers' valuation of competence which had a positive causal impact on subsequent intrinsic motivation. In contrast, efficacy expectations mediated increases in intrinsic motivation for low achievers.

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