On the Causal Effects of Perceived Competence on Intrinsic Motivation: A Test of Cognitive Evaluation Theory

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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The purpose of this study was to test the validity of the psychological processes proposed by cognitive evaluation theory (Deci & Ryan, 1980) when the informational aspect of the situation is salient. More specifically, it was the purpose of this study to determine whether the effects of verbal feedback on intrinsic motivation are mediated by perceived competence. Male undergraduate students (N = 115) participated in a first phase wherein their intrinsic motivation and perceived competence toward an interesting motor task, the stabilometer, was assessed. Subjects (N = 84) who reported at least a moderate level of intrinsic motivation toward the task returned for the second phase of the study in which they were subjected to conditions of either positive, negative, or no verbal feedback of performance. Intrinsic motivation and perceived competence were again assessed. One-way analyses of variance with dependent variables, intrinsic motivation and perceived competence change scores from the first to the second phase, showed that positive feedback increased while negative feedback decreased both intrinsic motivation and perceived competence. Results of a path analysis conducted with verbal feedback, perceived competence, and intrinsic

The present study presents some data which have been published in French (Vallerand, Reid, & Marisi, 1980). The originality of the present paper consists of the following points: (a) the data on perceived competence is presented while it was not presented earlier, (b) the data is reanalyzed in a different and more informative way, specifically as it regards the nature of the relationship between perceived competence and intrinsic motivation, (c) in the original study half the subjects received a monetary reward and half did not. The reward did not affect intrinsic motivation nor perceived competence in any way. Because in the earlier publication the ineffectiveness of the reward manipulation was discussed, no mention of reward manipulation is made in the present paper. This allows for a more detailed discussion of the relationship between perceived competence and intrinsic motivation, and (d) the study is presented in English. This makes it accessible to more people.

The authors wish to thank Ed Deci for his constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert J. Vallerand, University of Quebec at Montreal, Department of Psychology, Montreal, PQ, Canada, H3C 3P8.

Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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