The Effects of Instruction on Intrinsic Interest: The Importance of Context

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Examined how contextual cues influence the impact of receiving instructions for improving performance on intrinsic motivation. The authors proposed that whether instruction enhances or decreases motivation depends on the salience of performance goals. Goal salience was proposed to be a function of how an individual defines the activity, which, in turn, may be influenced by contextual features. To test this hypothesis, the authors used a computer game that emphasized fantasy in addition to skill, and they varied the presence of contextual cues highlighting performance. In Study 1, the authors varied the presence of prior performance feedback, and found that instruction decreased interest only when no prior performance feedback (positive or negative) was received. In Study 2, the authors explicitly manipulated contextual salience by describing the activity's goals as either skill- or fantasy-related. Instruction decreased interest in the fantasy-emphasis context, but increased interest in the skill-emphasis context. Furthermore, when instruction matched perceived goals Ss experienced greater positive affect while performing the task.



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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology