The Mastery Hypothesis and the Overjustification Effect

This study examined the hypothesis that task mastery is a critical determinant of the effect of reward on intrinsic interest

Ann K. Boggiano; Diane N. Ruble; Thane S. Pittman

2011

Scholarcy highlights

  • This study examined the hypothesis that task mastery is a critical determinant of the effect of reward on intrinsic interest
  • Because the negative side effects of reward on interest were assumed to result from a shift away from desire for mastery over a challenge toward simple attainment of a reward, reward was expected to undermine interest if offered to perform a challenging but not an unchallenging activity
  • To test the mastery hypothesis, fourth-grade children performed an interesting activity that varied in levels of complexity
  • Half of the children were provided with competence information, while the other half were not provided with this information
  • Half of the children were offered a reward for task engagement
  • The pattern of results provided overall support for predictions based on mastery

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