Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Mastery motivation in boys and girls: The role of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation

  • 652 Accesses

  • 16 Citations

Abstract

This research tested the hypothesis that the importance of adult approval and feedback for females relative to males would render girls of elementary school age more likely to develop an extrinsic orientation in comparison to boys. Using S. Harter's Scale of Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation [(1981), “A New Self-Report Scale of Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivational Orientation in the Classroom: Motivational and Informational Components,” Developmental Psychology Vol. 17, pp. 300–312], the data supported this hypothesis. Because of the assumed differential importance of controlling feedback from adults for females relative to males, a second study examined girls' and boys' preference for challenge as a function of adult controlling feedback and children's motivational orientation. The pattern of data supported the hypothesis that girls relative to boys show differential preferences for challenge, depending on the presence of type of adult feedback and motivational orientation in girls.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Barrett, M., & Boggiano, A. K. (1988). Fostering extrinsic orientations: Use of reward strategies to motivate children. Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology, 6, 293–309.

  2. Barry, H., Bacon, M. C., & Child, I. L. (1957). A cross-cultural survey of some sex differences in socialization. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 55, 327–332.

  3. Block, J. H. (1976). Assessing sex differences: Issues, problems, and pitfalls. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 22, 283–308.

  4. Boggiano, A. K., & Barrett, M. (1985). Performance and motivational deficits of helplessness: the role of motivational orientations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1753–1761.

  5. Boggiano, A. K., Barrett, M., Shields, A., Flink, C., & Seelbach, A. (1991). Use of controlling techniques: Effects on students' performance and standardized test scores. Unpublished manuscript. University of Colorado, Boulder.

  6. Boggiano, A. K., Main, D. S., & Katz, P. A. (1988). Children's preference for challenge: The role of perceived competence and control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 134–141.

  7. Boggiano, A. K., Barrett, M., Weiher, A. W., McClelland, G. H., & Lusk, C. M. (1987). Use of maximal-operant principal to motivate children's intrinsic interest. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 866–879.

  8. Boggiano, A. K., Harackiewicz, J. M., Bessette, J. M., & Main, D. S. (1985). Increasing children's interest through performance-contingent rewards. Social Cognition, 3, 400–411.

  9. Boggiano, A. K., Main, D. S., Flink, C., Barrett, M., Silvern, L., & Katz, P. (1989). A model of achievement in children: The role of controlling strategies in helplessness and affect. In R. Schwarzer, H. M. van der Ploeg, & C. D. Spielberger (Eds.), Advances in test anxiety research (Vol. 6). Berwyn, PA: Swets North America.

  10. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1980). The empirical exploration of intrinsic motivational processes. In L. Berkowtiz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 13). New York: Academic Press.

  11. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum Press.

  12. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1987). The support of autonomy and the control of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1024–1037.

  13. Deci, E. L., & Nezlek, J., & Sheinman, L. (1981). Characteristics of rewarder and intrinsic motivation of rewardee. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 1–10.

  14. Dweck, C., & Bush, E. (1976). Sex differences in learned helplessness: 1. Differential debilitation with peer and adult evaluators. Developmental Psychology, 12, 147–156.

  15. Dweck, C. S., & Elliott, E. S. (1983). Achievement motivation. In P. H. Mussen (Gen. Ed.) & E. M. Hetherington (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4. Social and personality development. New York: Wiley.

  16. Dweck, C. S., Davidson, W., Nelson, S., & Enna, B. (1978). Sex differences in learned helplessness: II. The contingencies of evaluative feedback in the classroom. III. An experimental analysis. Developmental Psychology, 14, 268–276.

  17. Flink, C., Boggiano, A. K., & Barrett, M. (1990). Controlling teaching strategies: Undermining children's self-determination and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 890–898.

  18. Grieb, A., & Easley, J. (1984). A primary school impediment to mathematical equity: Case studies in rule-dependent socialization. In M. W. Steinkamp & M. L. Maehr (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement: Women in science (Vol. 2). Greenwhich, CT: JAI Press.

  19. Haddad, Y. S. (1982). The effect of informational versus controlling verbal feedback on self-determination and preference for challenge. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.

  20. Harter, S. (1974). Pleasure derived from cognitive challenge and mastery. Child Development, 45, 661–669.

  21. Harter, S. (1977). The effects of social reinforcement and task difficulty on the pleasure derived by normal and retarded children from cognitive challenge and mastery. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 24, 476–494.

  22. Harter, S. (1981). A new self-report scale of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivational orientation in the classroom: Motivational and informational components. Developmental Psychology, 17, 300–312.

  23. Hoffman, L. W. (1972). Early childhood experiences and women's achievement motives. Journal of Social Issues, 28, 129–155.

  24. Kimball, M. M. (1989). A new perspective on women's math achievement. Psychological Bulletin, 105, 198–214.

  25. Lepper, M. R., & Greene, D. (1978). The hidden costs of reward. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

  26. Main, D. S. (1987). The effects of positive feedback on preference for challenge: The mediational role of task-inherent information. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Colorado, Boulder.

  27. Molner, J. M., & Weisz, J. R. (1981). The pursuit of mastery by preschool boys and girls: An observational study. Child Development, 52, 724–727.

  28. Pittman, T. S., Boggiano, A. K., & Ruble, D. N. (1983). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations: Interactive effects of reward, competence feedback, and task complexity. In J. Levine & M. Wang (Eds.), Teacher and student perceptions: Implications for learning. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

  29. Pittman, T. S., Emery, J., & Boggiano, A. K. (1982). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations: Reward-induced changes in preference for complexity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 789–797.

  30. Ryan, R. M. (1982). Control of information in the intrapersonal sphere: An extension of cognitive evaluative theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 450–461.

  31. Veroff, J. (1969). Social comparison and the development of achievement motivation. In C. P. Smith (Ed.), Achievement-related motives in children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Ann K. Boggiano.

Additional information

The authors would like to thank Charles M. Judd for his statistical advice, and Marty Barrett and Cheryl Flink for their comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. This research was supported in part by Grant No. 39197 from the National Institute for Mental Health to the first author.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Boggiano, A.K., Main, D.S. & Katz, P. Mastery motivation in boys and girls: The role of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. Sex Roles 25, 511–520 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00290060

Download citation

Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Elementary School
  • Extrinsic Motivation
  • Motivational Orientation
  • Informational Component