Examining the relationship between workplace rewards and the quality of motivational experience; a Self-Determination Theory perspective
Rebecca Hewett (2014)
Abstract: The relationship between reward and motivation is one of the most fundamental questions in organisational research. Self-determination theory (SDT) acknowledges that performance-contingent rewards are motivational but suggests that these highly contingent rewards undermine better quality (autonomous) motivation because they thwart the satisfaction of individuals’ basic psychological needs. Through three field- based empirical studies, these theoretical assumptions were tested. The first, a qualitative interview study, supported the distinction between different motivation types and found that more autonomous motivation related to a more positive emotional experience. The second and third studies addressed the primary aim of the thesis; to test SDT’s theory about the reward–motivation relationship. Click here to read more »
Jascha Sohl-Dickstein, Dave Paunesku, Benjamin Haley, and Joseph Williams (see Paunesku, 2013 and this summary) conducted a study in collaboration with Kahn Academy to investigate the effects of brief messages of encouragement on learning. In an experiment with 265,082 students learning math on the Khan Academy website, brief messages encouraging a growth mindset were presented above math problems such as: “Remember, the more you practice the smarter you become!” and “If you make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to get smarter!” The study also had three control conditions. In one control condition standard encouragement messages were presented such as standard encouragement, e.g., “Some of these problems are hard. Just do your best”. In another control condition science statements, e.g., “Did you know: An elephant brains weighs 7/2 as much as a human brain.” Finally, there was a no-header control condition. Click here to read more »
Carefully designed mindset interventions in schools have been shown to show improvements in student’s grades over weeks or month (Blackwell et al., 2007; Good et al. 2007). Now several brief and low cost mindset interventions have also shown positive effects. Here is one example. In an experiment, conducted by Dave Paunesku, Carissa Romero, David Yeager, Greg Walton, and Carol Dweck (Paunesku, 2013) with 1,594 high school students, a 30-minute online mindset intervention in the form of a simple slide show presentation, increased the rate at which underperforming students (those in the bottom 33% by pre-study grade point average) earned satisfactory grades (As, Bs, Cs) in core academic classes. Over an entire semester, treated students earned satisfactory grades at a 14% higher rate relative to control group students (see table below). Click here to read more »
Self-Determined Goals and Treatment of Domestic Violence Offenders: What If We Leave It Up to Them?
Lee, Uken, & Sebold (2014)
Abstract: Despite empirical evidence of self-determined goals and positive treatment outcomes, most conventional treatment programs of domestic violence offenders do not use self-determined goals as an integral part of their treatment efforts. The foundation for this article is a qualitative study that used data from 127 domestic violence offenders to explore the content and characteristics of goals that were self-determined by the offenders in a solution-focused, goal-directed treatment program. The emergent themes showed that the self-determined goals developed by offenders focused on self-focused and relational-focused attitudinal change and skills development. Three observed characteristics of these goals revolved around (a) emotional regulation versus cognitive understanding, (b) positively stated versus negatively stated goals, and (c) capacity building versus problem elimination. The implications of findings are discussed with the intention of generating useful dialogues among helping professionals to revisit treatment practices, orientations, and assumptions regarding treatment of domestic violence offenders.
Becoming Oneself. The Central Role of Self-Concordant Goal Selection
Kennon M. Sheldon (2014)
Abstract: Pursuing personal goals is an important way that people organize their behavior and mature as individuals. However, because people are typically unaware of their own implicit motivations and potentials, they may pick goals that do not serve them well. This article suggests that “self-concordant” goal selection is a difficult self-perceptual skill, with important ramifications for thriving. Various means of conceptualizing and measuring goal self-concordance are considered. Then, relevant literature is reviewed to show that goal self-concordance, as assessed by a self-determination theory methodology, is predicted by goal/motive fit; that goal self-concordance in turn predicts more persistent goal effort and, thus, better goal attainment over time; and that self-concordant goal selection is enhanced by personality variables and interpersonal contexts that promote accurate self-insight and personal autonomy. Implications for the nature of the self, the causes of personality thriving and growth, and the free will question are considered.
Multiple types of motives don’t multiply the motivation of West Point cadets
Wrzesniewski et al. (2014)
Abstract: Although people often assume that multiple motives for doing something will be more powerful and effective than a single motive, research suggests that different types of motives for the same action sometimes compete. More specifically, research suggests that instrumental motives, which are extrinsic to the activities at hand, can weaken internal motives, which are intrinsic to the activities at hand. We tested whether holding both instrumental and internal motives yields negative outcomes in a field context in which various motives occur naturally and long-term educational and career outcomes are at stake. We assessed the impact of the motives of over 10,000 West Point cadets over the period of a decade on whether they would become commissioned officers, extend their officer service beyond the minimum required period, and be selected for early career promotions. For each outcome, motivation internal to military service itself predicted positive outcomes; a relationship that was negatively affected when instrumental motives were also in evidence. These results suggest that holding multiple motives damages persistence and performance in educational and occupational contexts over long periods of time.
Keep the fire burning: Reciprocal gains of basic need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour
Devloo et al (2014).
Abstract: Drawing on insights from self-determination theory, we explored the dynamic relationship between intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour (IWB) over time. Specifically, we investigated how basic need satisfaction influences IWB through its effect on intrinsic motivation and how IWB in turn affects basic need satisfaction as measured the next day (i.e., a reciprocal relationship). The current study used a longitudinal design comprising a 6-day period and relied on multi-source data from 76 students in industrial product design and electronic engineering who participated in an innovation boot camp. In general, results provided support for the mediating role of intrinsic motivation in the relationship between basic need satisfaction and IWB, as well as the reciprocal relationship between basic need satisfaction and IWB.
Abstract : According to the self-determination theory, autonomy-support and structure are two fostering-engagement and learning practices. However, few studies, mostly correlational, simultaneously tested the effects of both practices on engagement. Regarding learning, studies focused only on autonomy-support and produced inconsistent findings. Some authors found higher learning in autonomy-supportive contexts (Vansteenkiste et al., 2004) while others found higher learning in less autonomy supportive contexts (Furtak and Kunter, 2012). In some cases, the conditions may also have manipulated structure, which would explain contradictory findings. Clearly differentiate the effects of structure and autonomy-support is therefore needed. The current study aimed at testing the main effects and interaction of both dimensions on engagement and learning. Eighty-four students in psychology performed a learning task on computer. They were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions determined by the manipulation of autonomy-support (low vs. high) and structure (moderated vs. high). After the task, participants filled in questionnaires about their engagement and learning. The results showed that they were significantly more engaged and learned more in highly structured conditions. No effects of autonomy-support were found. These results stress the importance of structure for engagement and learning. Contradictory to previous findings, no effects of autonomy-support were found. Given the study design, these results cannot be generalized to all situations. In classroom settings, other variables as teacher support could also be influential for students’ outcomes (Furrer & Skinner, 2003). However, this study is a step forward in the understanding of respective effects of autonomy-support and structure.
In order to function well it is important to be able to say no effectively. Each day we are confronted with countless requests. Examples of such requests may be “Could you do this for me?”, or “Is it okay if I… ?” Some request are a bit more subtle and implicit such as the expectation to respond to phone calls, e-mails, tweets, Facebook posts, etcetera. If we would respond to all these requests it would be impossible for us to get anything done which requires some concentrated effort. Only if we are able, to some extent, to say no to such requests and appeals we can protect and take care of what is important to us. We can protect ourselves against the constant flow of digital ‘requests’ by temporarily turning off our phones and computers. Click here to read more »
Implicit Theories About Willpower Predict Self-Regulation and Grades in Everyday Life
Job, Walton, Bernecker, and Dweck (in press)
Abstract: Laboratory research shows that when people believe that willpower is an abundant (rather than highly limited) resource they exhibit better self-control after demanding tasks. However, some have questioned whether this “nonlimited” theory leads to squandering of resources and worse outcomes in everyday life when demands on self-regulation are high. To examine this, we conducted a longitudinal study, assessing students’ theories about willpower and tracking their self-regulation and their academic performance. As hypothesized, a “nonlimited” theory predicted better self-regulation (better time management and less procrastination, unhealthy eating, and impulsive spending) for students who faced high self-regulatory demands. Moreover, among students taking a heavy course load, those with a nonlimited theory earned higher grades, which was mediated by less procrastination. These findings contradict the idea that a limited theory helps people allocate their resources more effectively; instead, it is people with the nonlimited theory who self-regulate well in the face of high demands.