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A Cognitive-Developmental Approach To The Effects Of Rewards On Intrinsic Motivation.

F. Danner, E. Lonky
Published 1981 · Psychology

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DANNER, FRED W., and LONKY, EDWARD. A Cognitive-developmental Approach to the Effects of Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation. CHILD DEVELOPMENT, 1981, 52, 1043-1052. 2 experiments were conducted to examine the relationships between cognitive level, intrinsic motivation, and responses to extrinsic rewards and praise. In experiment 1, 90 4-10-year-old children were divided into 3 cognitive ability groups on the basis of their performance on a battery of classification tasks. When allowed to choose among learning centers which differed in the level of understanding of classification required, all 3 cognitive ability groups spent the most time in the centers which were just beyond their initial ability levels, and they rated these centers as most interesting and moderately difficult. In experiment 2, the children received either rewards, praise, or no rewards for working in a learning center which was either at, above, or below their predicted levels of classification interest. Rewards had little effect on intrinsic motivation among children whose motivation was initially low and decreased it among children whose motivation was initially high. Praise also had mixed effects-highly motivated children with an internal locus of control increased in intrinsic motivation following praise, while highly motivated children with an external locus of control decreased in intrinsic motivation following praise. The implications of these results for the understanding of intrinsic motivation and for educational practice were discussed.
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