SEX DIFFERENCES IN INTRINSIC MOTIVATION: A DEVELOPMENTAL ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL REWARDS

AUDREY D'SOUZA KAST, Fordham University

Abstract

The present research investigated sex differences in intrinsic motivation. The effects of different types of feedback were experimentally analyzed and the students' classroom motivation and perception of the classroom environment were studied. Two hundred and forty elementary school children in grades three, five, and eight participated.^ Two issues ensuing from Deci's cognitive evaluation theory were tested by experimental manipulation of feedback. A priori comparisons of self-reported interest revealed that, as predicted, controlling feedback significantly lowered intrinsic motivation for a puzzle relative to informational feedback, for the total sample and for all grades and each sex, except third grade males. Secondly, a mixed feedback condition, which contained informational and controlling components, yielded sex differences. As predicted, females in grades three and eight and the total sample displayed lower levels of interest in the mixed condition as compared to the informational condition. For males, intrinsic motivation was higher in the mixed condition as compared to the controlling condition, as predicted, for fifth graders as well as for the total sample. Additionally, the females' scores in the mixed condition were significantly lower than those of males at grades five and eight as well as for the total sample. Results generally supported Deci's suggestion that sex differences in intrinsic motivation in response to feedback may stem from differential attention to controlling and informational components of the feedback.^ Sex differences in classroom motivation were investigated using Harter's Intrinsic-Extrinsic Orientation in the Classroom Scale. Sex differences did not emerge clearly. Only on one subscale of mastery did females obtain more extrinsic scores as compared to males.^ Sex differences in perception of classroom environment were investigated in the fifth and eighth grades using deCharms' Origin Climate Questionnaire. As predicted, eighth grade females perceived the classroom as more controlling than males. No sex differences emerged at grade five.^ Finally, grade differences in classroom motivation reported by Harter (1981) were replicated. As predicted, with increasing grade, scores on the subscales of challenge, curiosity, and mastery decreased, indicating a more extrinsic orientation; scores on the subscales of judgement and criteria for success increased, indicating a more intrinsic orientation. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

KAST, AUDREY D'SOUZA, "SEX DIFFERENCES IN INTRINSIC MOTIVATION: A DEVELOPMENTAL ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL REWARDS" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8323535.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8323535

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