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On The Causal Effects Of Perceived Competence On Intrinsic Motivation: A Test Of Cognitive Evaluation Theory

Robert J. Vallerand, Greg Reid

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The purpose of this study was to test the validity of the psychological processes proposed by cognitive evaluation theory (Deci & Ryan, 1980) when the informational aspect of the situation is salient. More specifically, it was the purpose of this study to determine whether the effects of verbal feedback on intrinsic motivation are mediated by perceived competence. Male undergraduate students (N = 115) participated in a first phase wherein their intrinsic motivation and perceived competence toward an interesting motor task, the stabilometer, was assessed. Subjects (N = 84) who reported at least a moderate level of intrinsic motivation toward the task returned for the second phase of the study in which they were subjected to conditions of either positive, negative, or no verbal feedback of performance. Intrinsic motivation and perceived competence were again assessed. One-way analyses of variance with dependent variables, intrinsic motivation and perceived competence change scores from the first to the second phase, showed that positive feedback increased while negative feedback decreased both intrinsic motivation and perceived competence. Results of a path analysis conducted with verbal feedback, perceived competence, and intrinsic