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The effects of experimentally induced choice on elementary school children’s intrinsic motivation: The moderating role of indecisiveness and teacher–student relatedness

Published on Dec 1, 2019in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology2.98
· DOI :10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104692
Joachim Waterschoot1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UGent: Ghent University),
Maarten Vansteenkiste70
Estimated H-index: 70
(UGent: Ghent University),
Bart Soenens64
Estimated H-index: 64
(UGent: Ghent University)
Abstract
Abstract Although the effects of choice provision on intrinsic motivation have been intensively studied, the number of experimental studies, in particular with elementary school children, is limited. Moreover, many questions regarding the boundary conditions of the effects of choice remain unresolved. Grounded in self-determination theory, the current experimental field study examined the effect of choice provision, versus choice deprivation, on the intrinsic motivation of elementary school children, thereby also addressing the role of child–teacher relatedness and children’s indecisiveness as potential moderators. After elementary school children (N = 126, Mage = 10.8 years) indicated their preference for one of three different painting activities, half of the children were allowed (so said by the teacher) to perform their preferred activity (i.e., the choice provision condition), and the other half were deprived of their choice and instead obliged to engage in a nonpreferred activity (also so said by the teacher). After having performed the activities, children’s intrinsic motivation, autonomy and competence need satisfaction, vitality, and intended persistence were assessed. Children in the choice provision condition, relative to those in the choice deprivation condition, reported enhanced intrinsic motivation and vitality because they experienced more autonomy and competence need satisfaction during the painting activity. Furthermore, because highly indecisive children did not benefit from choice in terms of competence satisfaction, the indirect effect of choice through competence on two indicators of intrinsic motivation was not significant among these children. Relatedness with the teacher did not play a moderating role. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.
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