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AN EXAMINATION OF THE EFFECT OF EXTRINSIC REINFORCERS ON INTRINSICALLY MOTIVATED BEHAVIOR: EXPERIMENTAL AND THEORETICAL

Thomas P. Brennan, John A. Glover

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A review of the literature in the area of intrinsic-extrinsic motivation revealed several experimental and theoretical problems. The current study provided a series of three conditions under which intrinsic motivation was tested, a true control, a directions only condition and a directions plus reinforcement condition. Both the directions and the directions plus reinforcement groups were observed to have increased their time on the task during the experimental phases, and when extrinsic reinforcement and directions were removed, the subjects in these two conditions maintained intrinsically motivated behaviors at levels significantly above the levels observed during the baseline phase and significantly higher than the control group. These results were in contrast to those previously reported in the literature. The discussion portion of the paper examined the faulty logic, and understanding of operant theory implicit in the literature in extrinsic-intrinsic motivation, and provided suggestions for alternative means of supplanting operant theory with more effective, workable theories of behavior.