REVIEW OF RELEVANT RESEARCH:
MOTIVATION AND SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING
In chapter two, we reviewed the concept of worldview and one of the major categories of worldview beliefs, religious worldview. In chapter four, we looked at another important category of worldview beliefs, epistemological worldview. This later section, besides describing a general category of worldview beliefs, has also become an area of significant interest in the realm of psychology and education. This chapter will introduce two additional psychological domains, motivation for learning and subjective well-being. Each will provide additional factors that we anticipate will have an affect on worldview integration. Motivation will contend with what we turn our attention to, while subjective well-being may provide either an incentive to engage or a consequence of such effort.
Motivation for Learning
Introduction to Motivation for Learning
Clearly, we all learn. Learning happens whether we like it or not. Yet, we do not all consciously seek to learn, or seek it for the same reasons. If two of the distinctive and essential marks of humanity are rationality and personal agency, it might be anticipated that all human being would consciously choose to engage in purposeful learning whenever possible. Clearly, we would expect one to engage in learning that serves as the pragmatic means to a desired end (such a desire for survival), but would we engage in learning simply for the sake of understanding our world better or garnering truth? We all know those who do. Yet, we also know those who exhibit no apparent desire or inclination for intrinsic learning. Learning, to many, is only important where it is necessary or critical to attaining an external end. Likewise, we also find the occasional person (e.g. the addict or the emotionally distraught) who seems to have no desire for learning even when survival is at stake.
Although worldview integration may occur regardless of our motivation and cognitive decision-making—it is arguably thrust upon some people by the undesired realities of life—it is more typically a result of conscious motivation and intentional learning. This decision involves two different aspects of the motivation process. First, there must be motivation to seek out and accept new information. Second, there must be the motivation to do something with it, to integrate it with the worldview that is currently operational. Here again, we all know people who collect huge stores of truth and information and then seemingly do nothing with them. Yet, we also are aware of those who refuse to volitionally seek out truth, while at the same time being willing to integrate the falsehoods that they have carried with them over the years into a completely integrated, yet false, worldview. Finally, there are those who do neither. They are willing to simply react without rhyme or reason to events as they transpire, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.
It would seem logical that to volitionally and excellently engage in worldview integration, a person must be motivated to both seek and to apply. Likewise, that motivation could be expected to derive from internal rather than external sources. Unless an event of worldview integration is simply necessary for survival, those without such motivation—or those who are externally forced to engage—will not persist beyond that one-time event. Thus, we would expect that those regularly and intentionally engaged would do so for the sake of either the learning itself or the extrinsic “end” of achieving a personal coherent and truthful worldview. Either way, to really understand worldview integration, it would seem that an investigation into the concept of motivation is necessary.
In general, motivation is the study of what causes human beings to choose to act, think or feel in certain ways. The concept of motivation assumes one major and essential characteristic—that the motivated entity is an agent with the capacity to choose. Otherwise, motivation simply becomes synonymous with “causation.” A computer is not motivated. It is externally caused to act by someone with agency. Nor is a rock motivated to fall. As far as we know at this time, a rose is not motivated to bloom. Instinctual action that cannot be avoided is also not motivated. Yet, although an agent voluntarily initiates causation, there may also be a cause behind the decisions to act. According to Franken (2002), “Motivation theorists start with the assumption that, for every behavior, there is a cause. Their goal is to identify those causes" (p. 3 ). Causes may be external (outside of our control) or internal (initiated through our actions as agents). Franken organizes internal sources of causation into motivational theories: biological (needs) theories; learning (process) theories, and cognitive (rational) theories.
Early conceptualizations of motivation distinguished between instinct (innate biological causes) and cognitive choice. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) reminded us that by virtue of our creation, man was essentially endowed with rational agency. The agency of animals, on the other hand, depends upon purposive activities (instincts) implanted in the animal by the creator for the guidance of the creature in the attainment of ends useful to it in its own preservation or the preservation of the species. Later, during the renaissance and enlightenment periods, philosophers and scientists found themselves troubled by growing observations regarding the similarity in animal and human behavior. Descartes’ notion of animal automatism (Descartes, 1968, c. 1637) and Malebranche’s arguments for a beast – machine (Malebranche, 1992, c. 1674) arguably opened the door for observations suggesting that animals and humans operate under the same laws (Darwin, 1966, c. 1881) and without any distinguishing attributes other than the degree of rationality. Motivational theory, beginning with these animal observations, began to posit instinctual causes (sometimes identified as needs or urges) as a source of motivation grew in favor (McDougal, 1961, c. 1911; Watson, 1970, c. 1930). Yet, while instinct and need theories of motivation explained some forms of impulsive behavior, as a whole they proved too remedial to explain the majority of human behavior and decision making.
Learning theories of motivation recognize that learned methodology and capability may be an important component in motivation. For example, our learning and motivation is dependent upon what we give our attention to. As Franken notes, “We cannot attend to everything, so we learn certain things but not others. Attention is only partially under our control; we have been programmed, to some degree, to attend to the things that might threaten our survival" (p. 43). Thus, Franken seems to suggest that motivation can involve both conscious and subconscious elements.
Yet, given our imperfect capabilities, simply attending to a need does not necessarily mean that the need will be properly fulfilled. Learning without rational cognitive consideration often leads to unconscious habits that may or may not be effective. These habits are stored away and often continue to be given operational control over our lives without being consciously reconsidered or re-evaluated (subjected to temporal feedback and feed-forward information). These learned components may continue to operate in lock-step fashion without concern for their temporal repercussions unless raised and reconsidered within our conscious cognition. This formation of habits is arguably similar to the unconsidered filters discussed in the worldview chapter that may limit or prevent a person’s ability to consciously revisit and evaluate operative worldviews. On the other hand, man, unlike animals, has the capacity of cognition, self-transcendence and temporal consciousness, allowing him to make modifications to his own worldview (operating system), learning processes (software), and behavior (macros or routines).
While biological and learning theories tend to be reactive, cognitive theories tend to be proactive. Cognitive theories of motivation are dependent upon self-transcendent processes such as “thinking, perceiving, abstracting, synthesizing, organizing, or otherwise conceptualizing the nature of the external world and the self” (Franken, 2002, p. 43). Cognitive motivation theories include, among others, goal theories such as actualization theory ( Rogers, 1946), mastery theory (Harter, 1978), achievement theory (McClelland, et.al, 1953), and self efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977). It also includes intrinsic motivation theories such as self determination theory (Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier & Ryan, 1991). In each case, one’s worldview supplies the purpose for a cognitive decision to temporally move from position A to position B, and based upon feedback and feed-forward information permits the continuing decision to persist in this movement (Franken, 2002).
Temporal Nature of Motivation
Self-transcendence incorporates another characteristic that is largely human. Self-transcendence is not only focused inward (towards the self and self-consciousness) and outward (objectification of the outside world), but it is also temporal in nature. It is aware not only of the passage of time, but of an impending future. Arguably, man and at least portions of the animal kingdom share the traits of life, vitality, consciousness, memory, and rationality. Yet, self-transcendence (the capacity to consider or look back upon one’s self from the point of view of the outside world) and temporality (time consciousness) seem to be uniquely human traits. Augustine speaks of our ability to handle temporal and eternal things as distinctively human (Augustine, 1963, De Trinitate, VII, 2.2).
Here, the remainder of the animal kingdom seems to show little propensity to project itself into the future. People are capable of setting goals and planning. Animals, on the other hand, while showing some rudimentary signs of planning and memory retrieval, do not clearly exhibit such skills (Zentall, 2005). People seem to have a natural concern and curiosity for the future, while animals seem to focus moment by moment. Thus, while a dog may instinctually bury a bone and know where it may be found when the ‘bone seeking’ urge arrives, it does not seem to plan this action with the purpose of ensuring that there is a bone waiting for him in the contingency of a boneless future. Even the gathering of nuts for the winter by a squirrel appears instinctual (Attenborough, 2002).
Unlike the instinctual, cognitive sources of motivation are seldom devoid of a temporal component. We tend to intentionally do something because it will temporally lead to something else. Temporality allows man to store both learning and information (feedback and feed-forward data) for the purpose of later recall, application and evaluation. This allows for the monitoring of goals and the evaluation of past and future anticipated responses. Finally, time consciousness and cognition allow man to be motivated by a desire for intended and purposive change as a personal agent.
Components of Motivation
In modern times, the field of motivation can be a vast melting pot of psychological theories and can be defined so broadly as to include nearly everything that makes mankind tick, or it may be defined so narrowly that it eliminates by definition anything that does not agree with that particular theory. Martin E. Ford (1992) in his attempt to combine the various motivational systems and theories into an integrated “Motivational Systems Theory,” starts by framing the field of motivation within the entire universe of human nature. To Ford, the human desire for effective functioning requires: a) biological capacity; b) skill and talent, c), a responsive environment, and d) motivation (p. 69). If Ford’s observation is correct, we can eliminate some things that motivation is not. For example, motivation is not simple biological capacity (physiology, developmental level, personal health, brain function, instinctual behavior, or memory capacity). Motivation is also not skill, talent or experience. Finally, it is also not the availability of a responsive environment (our location in culture, society, tradition or history). While each of the aforementioned may influence one’s motivation, motivation itself becomes the study of an individual’s agentic drive, desire and volition.
While Franken (2002) divides the components of motivation into three causal areas (i.e. the biological, learned, and cognitive), other theorists posit slightly different emphases. Beck (1978) suggests that motivation concerns choice, persistence and vigor. Steers and Porter (1987) agree with the addition of vigor and describe it as that which energizes human behavior. Bandura (1991) focuses on behavior selection, activation and direction. Ford (1992) seems to integrate all when he defines motivation using the following concepts:
In Motivational Systems Theory, motivation is defined as the organized patterning of three psychological functions that serve to direct, energize, and regulate goal-directed activity: personal goals, emotional arousal processes, and personal agency beliefs. (p. 3)
Ford (1992) suggests that goals or “directive cognitive processes” (p. 73) used in a motivational context are always personal. “Nevertheless, culturally defined goals and goals assigned by teachers and employers can only have a motivational impact if they are adopted, in some form, as personal goals” (pp. 73-74). Although outside influences have an impact, a goal cannot be forced upon anyone. Yet, life is complex and we typically embrace a myriad of goals at the same time, some more consciously available than others.
According to Ford (1992), personal goals have two basic properties, goal content and goal process. Goal content includes the end or state sought to be achieved. Ford provides a taxonomy of six basic types of goals: a) affective goals; b) cognitive goals; c) subjective organization goals; d) self-assertive social relationship goals; e) integrative social relationship goals; and f) task goals (pp. 88-89). Here, exploration or curiosity goals are classified as cognitive goals, while self-determination goals are classified under self-assertive social relationship goals and mastery goals are classified under task goals. In addition, due to the fact that we hold multiple goals and sub-goals simultaneously, goal content also includes aspects of goal alignment (choosing between conflicting goals) and goal balance (prioritization, coordination and diversification).
Goal process includes the methodology behind setting goals. Ford (1992) suggests that this normally includes consideration of a) goal relevance (are they meaningful and appropriate); b) goal importance (personal significance); c) goal attainability (personal and cultural capability); and d) emotional salience (anticipated emotional consequences of either success or failure). This goal process also means the practice of monitoring the goal and the consequences of each resulting step that is taken using feedback and feed-forward information in conjunction with the goal setting and content selection processes.
Emotional Arousal Processes
The role of the affective is often ignored or downplayed in motivational theory. Brophy’s (2004) treatise on motivating students to learn basically ignores the affective realm. Although Franken (2002) spends little time talking about emotional components and does not ever truly indicate where emotions fit within his basic definition of motivation, he does admit that “feelings are an important determinant of behavior” (p. 7). Under his motivational structure, we are never sure whether the affective component falls under the biological, the learned or the cognitive component—or possibly all three.
Ford (1992) recognizes that emotions are a major influence in goal selection and the initiation of personal agency beliefs. To Ford, emotions are subjective experiences that “reveals the degree of success, failure, or problems a person is experiencing – or anticipates experiencing – in the pursuit of currently active personal goals” (p. 140). He laments that:
Given the obvious salience of emotions in regulating immediate action, it is surprising how little attention has been given to emotional processes in contemporary motivational theorizing. This may reflect a belief that emotions have little long-term meaning or significance – a view that would seem to fit the characterization of emotions as short-term regulatory specialists. (p. 146).
Emotions have certain traits that must be considered in any motivational system (Ford, 1992). For example, emotions provide nearly immediate clues and feedback information. They are difficult to ignore or relegate to the sub-conscious. Yet, once they are activated, they can “take on a life of their own, so that they may persist in some form (e.g., a mood state) even after the goal is attained or some other goal takes precedence” (p. 142). At the same time, they tend to dissipate on their own unless somehow given another push. They tend to be more useful for immediate or short term evaluation. Thus, it is important not to give them more import than they deserve and, except in the case of a dire emergency, they should not be the sole source of motivation without first passing through intentional cognitive scrutiny. Yet, a motivational theory cannot simply ignore them. As Ford suggests, “it is generally more accurate to think of emotions and cognitive evaluations as a regulatory ‘team,’ with each player contributing to effective decision making in different and unique ways” (p 144).
Personal Agency Beliefs
Personal agency beliefs are the cognitive information center and normally the final motivational filter before the Will pulls the trigger. They provide feed-forward information based upon the person’s accumulated capability and contextbeliefs, and then feedback for use in evaluating and modifying these beliefs (Ford, 1992). It is here that a person’s worldview resides (including, among others, religious, subjective well being, and epistemological components). Capability beliefs are those beliefs that evaluate the person’s perceived ability to achieve the intended goal – either based upon personal capabilities or the conceptual constraints of that person’s worldview. It generally makes little sense to pursue what one truly believes cannot be accomplished or is outside of reality. This component is similar to Bandura’s (1977) concept of self-efficacy and is recognized within my heuristic Worldview Cycle (Chapter 2 - Figure 1) where such motivation is required to investigate dissonance within one’s current operating worldview and to take any newly formed beliefs further into the integration process. The popular concepts of self-esteem, positive thinking and encouragement address these beliefs and their resulting motivational input.
On the other hand, context beliefs depend upon the person’s perception of the outside world, his culture and his peers. Does the actor expect to find the responsive environment necessary to accomplish the goal? Is the environment congruent with the person’s personal goals, his worldview and his capabilities? Does he expect the environment to assist him and provide the outside help, encouragement and emotional support necessary to persist and accomplish the goal? Likewise, does the environment allow the actor to express true agency (self-determination)? Can the person take ownership of the goal or is it demanded by the context?
Ford (1992) argues that these three components of personal goals, emotional arousal, and personal agency beliefs act in concert to provide the impetus for a conscious decision to act. Motivationally, personal agency beliefs can do nothing without a goal. A goal cannot be activated if there is a strong emotional arousal to refrain from taking the action. Likewise, a goal cannot be realistically acted upon if it is in contravention of personal agency beliefs.
Selection of an Applicable Theory
With the myriad of different motivational theories that have developed over time, some emphasizing different areas and components of the complete motivational puzzle, it becomes important for this study to discern which theory should be relied upon both conceptually and for measurement purposes. While there may be subconscious elements of worldview integration, it seems clear that it is largely a conscious and cognitive process that depends heavily on the personal agency belief components of motivation. This integration may to some extent be triggered by a biological instinct to survive or the need to have a coherent store of concepts and information for making life’s decisions. Such minimal integration is necessary for all. Yet, beyond this, any higher levels of integration seem to require explicitly conscious, cognitive and self-directed efforts. Thus, it seems apparent that we should be focusing on measuring cognitive theories of motivation. But which theory best applies?
Mastery and Goal Theories
Goal theories generally encompass a wide variety of sub-theories. It seems less likely that one would engage in worldview integration simply based upon goals of pragmatic achievement. However, a goal of mastery over life and one’s worldview might suffice. According to Franken (2002), "it has been suggested that some people adopt a mastery orientation, which means, in broad terms, they are motivated to learn everything they can about the environment in which they live” (p. 21).
Interestingly, mastery theories of motivation originated as biological theories with the fundamental assumption that one has an innate biological desire to master his environment. Franken (2002) suggests that “This idea is consistent with an evolutionary approach to behavior that assumes our ability to adapt has not been left to chance but, rather, is guided by our biology" (p. 22). Thus, it is in some ways similar with cognitive dissonance theories (Festinger, 1957) which posit that our motivation to learn is derived from an innate need for understanding and coherence. We are motivated to avoid and resolve conflict and while this involves cognitive and learning processes, the motivation is biological, not cognitive. Still, the observation that many people simply withdraw from conflict rather than attempting to resolve it, has undermined the innate nature of both cognitive dissonance theories and mastery theories of motivation (Ford, 1992, p. 159).
White (1959) suggests that mastery motivation is really derived from a goal of self-efficacy that is met when the individual comes to understand his environment sufficiently to be able to affect it. Thus, we cognitively desire to master and control the world around us. Bandura (1991) observed that people with a mastery motivation tend to cherish the sense of agency. As Franken (2002) noted, "People with a generalized belief that they can control important things in their lives are inclined to engage in mastery behaviors" (p. 369). Researchers have suggested that mastery goal orientations lead to intrinsic motivation (Elliot & Harackiewicz, 1996) and that mastery motivation is closely linked to intrinsic motivation (Elliot & Church, 1997).
Intrinsic Motivation Theories
The idea that we are sometimes motivated to explore our world and our beliefs independent of any specific external goals is not new (Rousseau, Emile, 1993, c. 1762; Montessori, 1975, c. 1949), however this has recently led to the concept of intrinsic motivation. These theories attempt to synthesize the long held conviction that people are motivated toward a specific end with the observation that we are often motivated to engage in activities for the simple pleasure of engaging in that action. As Brophy (2004) observes:
Intrinsically motivated actions require no separate motivating consequences; the only necessary “reward” for them is the spontaneous interest and enjoyment that we experience as we do them. They often feature curiosity, exploration, spontaneity, and interest in our surroundings. (p. 10).
Generally, extrinsically motivated activities are those stimulated by clear awareness of the activities’ role as a means toward a specific end. On the other hand, intrinsically motivated activities are those undertaken without consideration for its ability to assist in reaching another external goal. Participation in the activity is the end or the goal in and of itself (Eckblad, 1981). Deci and Ryan (2000) add that extrinsically motivated actions normally do not occur spontaneously and are not volitionally chosen but for external pressures or the incentive of achieving another chosen goal. Thus, as a means to an end, extrinsic motivation activates an action that may not have been desired, but is seen as a necessary step toward the desired end result. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is self activated by our chosen desires without external intervention. Quite simply, for some, they are intrinsically motivated to read a book, but are extrinsically motivated to earn money, drive to a bookstore, search for and purchase the book. Yet, for others, they are intrinsically motivated to simply browse books at the bookstore. They are extrinsically motivated to drive to the store—and if the proprietor complains about the time spent browsing in the store, to purchase a book and take it home.
Yet, some wonder whether any activity is undertaken for its own sake. Aren’t we intrinsically motivated to do something out of a goal for pleasure, enjoyment, or even simply confirmation of our existence? Maslow (1954) earlier argued that the pursuit of these goals was dependent upon our fulfillment of prior basic needs. Deci & Ryan (2000) suggest that intrinsic motivation is not defined by the absence of extrinsic motives, but rather by the presence of a subjective perception of self-determination. This requires the previous satisfaction of three basic psychological needs; autonomy, competence and relatedness, and these needs may be satisfied regardless of whether or not Maslow’s basic physical needs have been met. Thus, given a self-determined perspective, a prison inmate or a homeless person has the ability to be intrinsically motivated in some manner.
Deci and Ryan’s (1985b) self-determination theory is a macro-motivational theory that, unlike most previous theories that look for naturalistic and mechanistic causes for our actions, assumes that human beings are active agents rather than passive responders, that they are innately inclined toward growth and development (rather than being primarily determined by the influence of their environment), and that they possess innate psychological needs that are universally found in all cultures (Deci & Ryan, 2000). This theory suggests that as people feel subjectively more autonomous, competent and relational; they will become more intrinsically motivated in what they do. They suggest that self-competence is a primary requirement for intrinsic motivation, yet autonomy is
required before true self-competence can be experienced. One may feel competent in following the directives of others, however true competence occurs when one believes they are effective at making decisions on their own (autonomously) and effectively exercising their personal volition. Here, autonomy does not mean selfish, detached or independent, but rather that the person feels a personal locus of control and the ability to exercise true volition free from outside constraint. Interestingly, when autonomy is defined in this manner, its existence tends to promote socialization, connectedness and positive perceptions of the social experience (Hodgins, Koestner and Duncan, 1996).
Extrinsic motivation may take several forms, each embodying increasing levels of self-determination. Deci, et al. (1991) describe four types. (See Figure 3). Amotivation is not one of these four types, but is simply the lack of any motivation whether extrinsic or intrinsic. In essence, the person has no reason to pursue that activity. The first type, external regulation consists of motivation that results from external coercion, threat or pressure. This coercion may be physical or psychological and includes motivation stimulated by the anticipated consequences (reward or punishment) anticipated from others. The perceived locus of control comes from outside the individual. Introjected regulation is where we perform the act due to internally generated coercion, but we do not claim it as our own. Active coercion from the outside is not necessary due to internally generated guilt, a mistaken belief of external control, or a fear of deferred coercion or unwanted consequences. There is again no true choice and the locus of control is not with the individual.
(Deci & Ryan, 2002, p. 16 & Deci & Ryan, 2000, p. 237)
Copyright © 2002 Edward L. Deci & Richard M. Ryan
Reprinted with the permission of the authors
Identified regulation is where the activity is not necessarily desired, but is accepted and internalized as a necessary step or means toward the desired end. These activities are not desired for their own sake, but will be performed due to their propensity to lead to desired goals. Finally, integrated regulation is where two desired goals conflict and one is chosen over the other due to the integration of the person’s worldview and values. Here, the resulting action is self-determined, but may not be the first choice or may result in abandoning a more desired choice. However, this final type is normally left out of most recent research due to instrument factor analysis which has failed to establish that such a separate factor exists. The next logically ensuing category would be intrinsic motivation—actions chosen for their own sake. Over time, a certain activity may progress through the extrinsic motivation hierarchy to become intrinsically motivated. Thus, an initially extrinsic activity may eventually become self-determined through a process of internalization and integration. Internalization is defined by Deci, et al. (1991) as “a proactive process through which people transform regulation by external contingencies into regulation by internal processes” (p. 328). Here, a person internally accepts and adopts as his own a motivational scheme that was originally externally derived. Arguably, extrinsic motivation may, by coercion, lead to an action or a goal that is later recognized as worthwhile. From that point on, the activity may become intrinsically motivated. Integration is the process where internalized rules and values (even if originally derived from external sources) become an integrated part of the person’s being and worldview.
As Brophy (2004) summarizes:
By enabling us to assimilate external values and reconstitute them into personally endorsed values and self-regulations, the internalization process allows us to feel self-determined when enacting them. When the process functions optimally, we identify with the importance of social regulations, assimilate them into our integrated sense of self, and thus fully accept them as our own. However, the internalization process can become forestalled so that some values and regulations remain external or become internalized only partially. (p. 187).
According to Pelletier, Fortier, Vallerand, Tuson, Briere & Blais (1995), there are also identifiable sub-types of intrinsic motivation. Although intrinsic motivation does not exhibit a similar hierarchical order, it may be categorized by three subtypes identifying the ultimate underlying goal of the activity. These categories consist of: a) intrinsic motivation to know (the desire to simply discover, understand, or know); b) intrinsic motivation to accomplish (the satisfaction of becoming more competent and productive); and c) intrinsic motivation for stimulation (to experience, invigorate and excite the senses). This recognizes that we are not all intrinsically motivated for the same reasons. One person may be intrinsically motivated to learn, while another may intrinsically motivated towards adventure.
Based upon the foregoing, it seems clear that the concepts of intrinsic motivation and self-determination more clearly exemplify the types of motivation that would be expected to stimulate or lead to volitional efforts to investigate, evaluate and integrate one’s worldview. Such engagement does not appear to be mandated by a biological or innate desire for mastery, nor does it appear to be externally mandated except in the case of extreme disequilibrium leading to issues of immediate survival and dealing with brute physical reality. When considering issues of philosophy, religion, teleology, and ethics, most people are capable of getting along well regardless of their volitional desire to engage in such worldview integration. Self-determination theory seems best positioned to deal with those things that promote a person’s willingness to deal with such issues. With this in mind, let us investigate what recent research has established about self-determined motivation.
Self Determination Theory Research
A significant number of studies have been done concerning the self-determination theory of motivation – enough that Deci and Ryan (2002) have edited a Handbook of Self-Determination Research that provides an overview of the work to date. While it would be impossible to review or provide a summary of all research, the following is a general synopsis of major findings and a review of a few major studies. (See also Table 12 at the end of this section for a summary of the studies cited and reviewed herein).
Generally, research has suggested that one’s intrinsic motivation, curiosity and drive for being challenged will increase when autonomy is encouraged (Ryan & Grolnick, 1986)). Likewise, when activities are controlled and strongly depend upon extrinsic motivation, initiative to learn and to use creative and conceptual strategies decreases (Ryan & Grolnick, 1986). This would suggest that external rewards and disincentives will serve to reduce a person’s level of intrinsic motivation. This has resulted in the theory’s greatest controversy and will be addressed in a moment.
Research has also suggested that it is important to encourage the internalization and integration process. By doing so, a person (after appropriate thought and consideration) tends to become intrinsically motivated toward a certain activity in circumstances where extrinsic motivation was previously required (Ryan & Deci, 2000). In addition, people who are more oriented towards external control, generally due to a focus on obtaining rewards or approval from others, have been found to have lower self-actualization and more public self-consciousness and hostility (Deci & Ryan, 1985a). Students whose motivation for doing schoolwork was more intrinsic and self-determined were found to be more likely to stay in school (Vallerand, Fortier & Guay, 1997) and tended to display more positive emotions in the classroom, and showed more satisfaction and enjoyment in school (Vallerand, Pelletier, Blais, Briere, Senecal & Vallieres, 1992). Intrinsic motivation and autonomous forms of extrinsic motivation have also been linked to positive academic performance (Pintrich & De Groot, 1990), a desire for lifetime literacy (Sanacore, 1997), and to evidence of better memory and conceptual learning skills (Grolnick & Ryan, 1987).
Research has also provided clues that intrinsic motivation may be best stimulated in students by supporting self-determination through the provision of choice (Ryan & Grolnick, 1986), focusing on the student’s areas of developed personal interest (Cordova & Lepper, 1996) and by the promotion of a student’s personal competence through positive feedback and challenge (Vallerand & Reid, 1984). Recent studies and experiments have suggested that intrinsic motivation may also be stimulated simply by the degree of energy, curiosity and enthusiasm exhibited by a teacher (Patrick, Hisley, & Kempler, 2000). Finally, a number of studies have suggested that people do not fall on a one dimensional continuum of extrinsic or intrinsic motivation or behavior. Instead, people at a given time typically evidence a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic motivational patterns (Muller & Louw, 2003).
Since it is suggested that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is related to both goal formation and subjective well-being, a recent group of studies concerning these correlations by Kasser and Ryan (1996) is worth a closer review. In two studies involving separate samples of 100 adults in Rochester , NY and 192 undergraduates at the University of Rochester , correlations were analyzed between results on measures of intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations (goals) and measures of self-authentication, vitality, depression and anxiety. Extrinsic aspirations consisted of goals such as money, fame and image, while intrinsic aspirations included goals such as relatedness, community helpfulness and self-acceptance. Here, significant (all p < .05) positive correlations were observed between intrinsic aspirations and both self-actualization (r = .40 – adults & r = .59 - students) and vitality (r = .46 – adults & r = .31 - students). A negative correlation was found between intrinsic aspirations and depression (r = -.35 – adults & r = -.27 - students). Likewise, significant and opposite correlations of approximately the same strength were observed between extrinsic aspirations and the same factors. The second sample (students) also included a Narcissistic Personality Inventory that yielded significant correlations between narcissism and these same aspirations in similar strength and in the same respective directions as the extrinsic aspirations.
According to Kasser and Ryan (1996), this study shows that extrinsic goals (which require another person’s judgment as to whether one is worthy of reward or praise and which are a means to other ends) are detrimental to vitality and self-actualization, while increasing depression and narcissism. Alternatively, intrinsic goals (which are sought for their own sake and the fact that they are considered inherently valuable and/or satisfying to the individual) lead to a decrease in depression and narcissism while increasing feelings of vitality and self-actualization. This may be extrapolated to suggest that personalities who tend to rely upon extrinsic goals focused on rewards or praise are correlated with a lower sense of well-being while those who pursue intrinsic goals tend to have a significantly higher sense of well-being.
Such as study seems to provide a ringing endorsement of intrinsic motivation, however limitations abound. First, such a correlational study cannot provide causal conclusions. It seems equally possible that those who are depressed or narcissistic have a habit of simply choosing to pursue extrinsic goals. Likewise, those who feel vital and self-actualized finally feel the ability and desire to do intrinsically valuable things. Second, the sample is small and may not be generalizable outside of Rochester , NY . Finally, who is to say that a person may not be intrinsically motivated to perform narcissistic actions? While intrinsic motivation deals with the degree of self-determination that a person feels, it does not necessarily lead to the acceptance of certain values, goals or personal agency beliefs.
In an attempt to flesh out the structure of their self-determination theory, Deci and Ryan (2000) have suggested the existence of a rudimentary developmental continuum, where motivation may be expected to progress from the less self-determined (amotivation) through the most self-determined (intrinsic motivation). Yet, administration of various measures and instrument factor and correlational analysis has suggested that no such continuum exists (Cokely, Bernard, Cunningham & Motoike, 2001; Fairchild, Horst, Finney & Barron, 2004). In essence, the different types of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation identified by Deci & Ryan (1985b) and Vallerand (1992) may simply be different. They may not be properly categorized as polar opposites and, in fact, may exist as multiple co-existing concepts.
Likewise, it has been suggested that there exists a hierarchy between the intrinsic motivation exhibited on three different levels: a) the global level (overall personality level), b) the contextual level (such as at school); and c) the situational level (Vallerand, 1997). Vallerand also hypothesized that there would be greater levels of stability at the global (overall personality) level than at progressively lower levels and that changes in one’s motivational orientation would be greater from the top down than from the bottom up. Thus, the global level hould be expected to exert more influence on the situational than the situational level would exert on the global.
In an attempt to investigate these proposed hierarchical levels, Guay, Mageau & Vallerand (2003) performed a series of studies using a sample of undergraduate college students and two instruments, a specially designed global motivation scale and the Academic Motivational Scale (designed specifically for academic use). The results of these studies suggested that there were no significant differences between stability at the global level and the contextual levels and that influence is reciprocal—that is, it occurs equally in a top-down and bottom-up fashion. While there are limitations based upon the small sample and questions regarding the instrument’s external validity in measuring stability and influence between the levels, the study does seem to question the usefulness of the hierarchical model. According to the authors, measurement using undergraduate students may create additional limitations since “it is possible that global motivation in late adolescence (i.e., 19 years old) is not completely crystallized” (p. 1001). However, it might also suggest that motivational orientation is integrated at different points and in a different manner over the lifespan. As the authors suggest, Thus, it is possible that the BU [bottom-up] effect takes place mainly during the formative years (until young adulthood), thereby allowing global self-determined motivation to develop and become more stable. Once crystallized, global self-determined motivation would then affect more specific motivational components (the TD [top-down] effect) . . . . Future research on these issues appears particularly important for the field of motivation. (p. 1001).
Finally, a major area of controversy arose when it was discovered that a focus on external rewards and approval can undermine intrinsic motivation and leave people with less feelings of autonomy or agency (Deci & Ryan, 1985b, 1991). This seemed to contradict the prevailing behaviorist notion that reinforcement and reward is the most effective way to stimulate motivation. Ford (1992, p. 103) suggests that the use of extrinsic rewards can result in unnecessary goal conflict and that the undermining effect of these rewards is most likely to appear in the following situations: a) where the offering of the reward is perceived as an attempt to control or manipulate one’s behavior; b) where the reward distracts the person away from an already existing or forming intrinsic orientation; or c) where the offered reward alters the psychological meaning or value of the task, causing the person to wonder if it remains worth doing for its own sake.
There seems to be a continuing battle (often using conflicting meta-analyses of the extensive research done in this area) between those who support the use of extrinsic rewards (Eisenberger & Cameron, 1996) and those who believe such tactics are over relied upon (Deci, Koestner & Ryan, 1999). Deci, Koestner and Ryan’s (1999) most recent analysis reviews over 128 studies and concludes that teachers should exercise great care when implementing reward based incentive systems. This is not only because of the natural propensity for rewards to undermine intrinsic motivation, but also because they tend to simply reward those who are already intrinsically motivated (and who now become conflicted between their intrinsic orientation and the reward), while further alienating those who have to struggle hard to gain (and typically to be refused) these rewards. May (2003) reports that the Deci meta-analysis shows the undermining effect of extrinsic reward to be especially strong for young children. Kohn (1993), in his own review of the research, adds that when extrinsic rewards are offered, the only thing stimulated is the goal of receiving the reward and the underlying purpose for the activity gets lost. According to Kohn, none of the studies show that short term rewards provide any motivation for long term behaviors.
Ford (1992) and Brophy (2004) suggest that each side tends to overgeneralize the results. Clearly, if the expected recipients of the rewards are already highly motivated, extrinsic motivation is not beneficial. If the area sought to be motivated is not crucial, but is rather dictated by taste or enjoyment, any such motivation becomes manipulation. However, if the activity is important and clearly beneficial, properly placed extrinsic rewards can counter amotivation or existing avoidance goals—or may serve to coax a person to properly exercise their goal selection and goal alignment process.
Measures of Intrinsic Motivation
Scales for measuring motivation are numerous. However, despite the plethora of instruments, there are few dealing with the concept of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation that also deal with motivation toward learning. Yet, happily, two good ones do exist. Since my purpose is not just to correlate levels of motivation with religion and epistemology, but to also differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic forms of motivation, a scale measuring both aspects is required. Additionally, since I side more with the self-determination theory of motivation, my test needs to be developed within the confines of that theory.
Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ)
The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) (Pintrich, et al., 1991) is one of the most accepted and widely used tests that I investigated. It is an instrument developed by several of today’s most renowned educators at the University of Michigan ’s former National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning (NCRIPTAL). The measure was originally designed to measure the effectiveness of Pintrich and McKeachie’s “Learning to Learn” class at the University of Michigan . It has been used with several thousand undergraduates enrolled in that class and in a number of other studies, both by the developers and others. It is routinely used by college campuses to assess student learning strategies within specific courses and with specific instructors.
The MSLQ is a pencil and paper measure that is based upon cognitive views of motivation and learning strategies within a self-determinism theory. According to the test manual:
There are essentially two sections to the MSLQ, a motivation section, and a learning strategies section. The motivation section consists of 31 items that assess students’ goals and value beliefs for a course, their beliefs about their skill to succeed in a course, and their anxiety about tests in a course. The learning strategy section includes 31 items regarding students’ use of different cognitive and metacognitive strategies (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia & McKeatchie, 1991, p. 3).
The instrument is broken down into fifteen separate scales that are designed to be modular, meaning that they can be used together or individually. The motivation scale includes six sub-scales labeled as: a) intrinsic goal orientation; b) extrinsic goal orientation; c) task value; d) control beliefs; e) self-efficacy for learning and performance; and f) test anxiety. The learning strategies scale includes nine sub-scales labeled as cognitive and metacognitive strategies: g) rehearsal; h) elaboration; i) organization; j) critical thinking; k) metacognitive self-regulation and resource management strategies: l) time and study environment; m) effort regulation; n) peer learning; and o) help seeking (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia & McKeachie, 1991).
The manual and numerous other studies provide significant conceptual and statistical support for the validity of the MSLQ. The scale’s correlation with both the student’s final grade in the course and with GPA and other academic performance measures are significant and seemingly demonstrate good predictive validity. Confirmatory factor analysis of the sub-scales also establish good factor validity. Inter-item correlations are high where expected. For example, high scores on Intrinsic Goal Orientation (motivation) correlate highly with task value, self-efficacy, critical thinking and metacognitive self-regulation. This is generally expected and hypothesized, thus providing additional concept validity (Pintrich, et al., 1991).
The manual and numerous other studies provide statistical support for the reliability of the MSLQ. Cronbach’s alpha scores are generally high, ranging from .52 to .93 depending upon the subscale. Test / retest data is either not available or was not provided (Garcia & Pintrich, 1995).
Academic Motivation Scale – College Version (AMS)
The Academic Motivation Scale (AMS) (Vallerand, et al., 1992) is a questionnaire that was developed for use with college students to assess various dimensions of academic motivation. It was originally developed in the French language for use with French-Canadian students enrolled in classes taught in the French language in Montreal , Canada . Vallerand and Bissonnette (1992) were investigating the role that intrinsic, extrinsic and amotivational styles had in predicting academic persistence in junior college students. The questionnaire consists of 28 items responding to the question “Why Do You Want to Go to College?”
There are seven subscales (factors), each with four items that utilize a seven point Likert scale ranging from 1 – “does not correspond at all,” to 5 – “corresponds exactly.” The subscales consist of 1) amotivation; 2) the three subcategories of intrinsic motivation: intrinsic motivation toward knowledge; intrinsic motivation to accomplish or create, and intrinsic motivation to experience sensations); and 3) the three subcategories of extrinsic motivation: external motivation; introjected motivation; and identified regulation
The initial study consisted of 388 male and 674 female students and showed not only that amotivational styles (as anticipated) were highly and negatively correlated with academic persistence, but that intrinsic motivation towards academic activities were more highly correlated with academic persistence than were extrinsic styles (Cokley, Bernard, Cunningham & Motoike, 2001). Construct validity was investigated through an examination of the correlations of the subscales with other similar instruments including the Academic Self Concept Scale, and correlations with other constructs such as optimism in education, self-actualization, concentration in class, and academic performance. In each case, validity was supported. In several recent studies (Cokley, et al., 2001; Fairchild, et al., 2004), confirmatory factor analyses were performed to investigate whether the data best fit a one, two, three, five or seven factor model. The one factor model would be a unified factor for “motivation;” the two factor model would be a unified intrinsic and a unified extrinsic factor; the three factor model would consist of an amotivation factor, a unified intrinsic factor and a unified extrinsic factor; and the five factor model would consist of amotivation, three subscales of extrinsic motivation, and a unified intrinsic factor. The seven factor model would include amotivation, three subscales of extrinsic motivation and three subscales of intrinsic motivation. According to Fairchild, et al. (2004):
First, a seven-factor structure representing the intercorrelations among the items was supported. Second, adequate internal consistency estimates of the scores for each of the seven subscales was found. Third, the majority of the a priori predictions concerning relationships with other motivation measures were supported. However, lack of support of the simplex pattern [developmental continuum of self-determinism] in both this study and previous studies causes concern. (p. 32).
Cokley et al. (2001) also found that, “Examination of the fit indexes indicated that the data inadequately fit the one-, two-, three-, and five-factor models. The data best fit the seven-factor model (CFI=.90; NFI=.83)” (p. 114). They concluded that their results were “consistent with the findings obtained by Vallerand et al.’s (1992) study” (p. 114). Additionally, Cokley states that there should be a logical link between the AMS subscales and both the Academic Self-Concept Scale and GPA. While this was generally true, (intrinsic motivation correlated positively with academic self-concept while amotivation correlated negatively), they were unable to find such a correlation between intrinsic motivation and GPA (Vallerand, et al., 1993).
Reliability for this instrument appears quite good. Internal consistency for the seven subscales of the English version of the AMS ranged from .83 to .86 in one study and between .60 and .86 in another. In Cokley’s (2001) study, Cronbach’s coefficient ranged from .70 for the lowest subscale to .86 for the highest. Cokley concludes that “These results provide support for the internal consistency of scores from the AMS” (p. 115).
Selection of Scale for Study
Either scale might be useful for investigating correlations between intrinsic motivation types and a person’s epistemic or religious worldview and their subjective perception of well-being. The MSLQ initially appeared to be exactly what was needed in my quest to secure a motivation measure which separated intrinsic and extrinsic components. However, the entire test investigates a number of other matters (especially learning strategies) that would be peripheral to my needs. Still, its modular components dealing with motivation would be quite helpful and appropriate but for the fact that it is structured to be used on a course by course basis. The authors have not provided any norms for the instrument, mainly because “it is designed to be used at the course level. We assume that students’ responses to the questions might vary as a function of different courses, so that the same individual might report different levels of motivation or strategy use depending on the course” (Pintrich, et al., 1991, p. 5).
Still, in reviewing the instrument, four of the five motivation scale modules (excluding the Test Anxiety scale) might be helpful in my study. The items would need to be reworded so as to refer to the respondent’s more general and less course specific experience. In addition, a review of those items shows that it would be difficult to reword the task value component to be less course specific, thus leaving only 12 items and three motivation scale modules. The question becomes whether this is useful or whether there are better instruments more specifically directed at my needs.
The reliability and validity of the AMS seem well founded and my self administration of the test suggests that it logically measures that which it claims. While there are some questions concerning whether the concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation provides a good correlation with academic performance (ie. GPA) or whether any continuum of self-determinism exists, this would not matter much given the purposes for which it will be used. Here, it would be desired to simply distinguish between a person’s propensities for intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to learn or engage in formal education without concern for its predictive effect on academic performance. For this purpose, the AMS seems to be the better measure.
While worldview integration requires motivation of some sort to propel one past the simple stage of observation and the recognition of dissonance, that motivation may be either extrinsic or intrinsic. External motivation may come from the simple necessity of survival. Yet, such basic forms of extrinsic motivation may not lead one very deep into the integration process. Indeed, if survival is all that is necessary, it seems that one may survive with merely nominal and poorly executed integration. It would be expected that the richer and more critical aspects of integration will require volitional cognitive engagement and a form of motivation that is more internal and autonomous. It is this degree of engagement and integration that this study seeks to explore.
Within his Motivational Systems Theory, Ford (1992) suggests that any motivation will require some emotional arousal, the formation of volitional personal goals, and the existence of personal agency beliefs that are conducive to the goal at hand. When it comes to worldview integration, one would suspect that the goals would likely be cognitive and that one’s agency beliefs would be heavily dependent upon the person’s currently operative worldview components of religion and epistemology. Thus, it would seem rational to anticipate that certain beliefs in these areas might correlate more strongly with intrinsic motivational orientations and that these domains combine to increase the likelihood that one will engage in critical integration. On the other hand, certain other religious and epistemological beliefs may, together, create filters that impair the process and result in avoidance of and retreat from critical integration until some form of extrinsic motivation renders it unavoidable and requires only those changes that are absolutely necessary.
Finally, one might wonder whether living a life where one’s worldview is critically examined only when a crisis arises, might leave the person with diminished vitality and satisfaction with life. On the other hand, does the knowledge that one is capable and actively engaged in the integration process lead to an increase in the same? This leads into our next domain, subjective well-being.
Copyright 2005 Mark E. Henze - BBuilders.org