Does being interested mean the same thing as being intrinsically motivated for one’s learning? : distinguishing the construct of interest from intrinsic motivation, intrinsic value, and mastery orientation
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The purpose of this study was to distinguish the construct of interest from other various forms of internal motivations, including intrinsic value, intrinsic motivation, and mastery goal orientation. Both conceptual and empirical analyses were conducted examining possible indicators of the conceptual distinctions between constructs. Based on a review of the existing literature, the conceptual analysis pointed to a number of potential indicators, including cost, competence, and emotion appraisal, that could help in illuminating differences between the four key internal motivation constructs. The empirical analysis involved asking 200 college students about their motivations for a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) course in which they were currently enrolled, along with their perceptions of cost (in form of effort, time, loss of valued alternatives, and emotional cost), perceived competence, and emotion appraisals (three positive and five negative emotions) associated with this course. Results of the quantitative analysis indicated that positive and negative emotions moderated the relation between interest and intrinsic value, such that the relation between interest and intrinsic value changes as positive and negative emotions change. Further, cost and competence moderated the relation between interest and intrinsic motivation, such that the relation between interest and intrinsic motivation changes at different levels of cost and competence. Finally, competence moderated the relation between interest and mastery goal orientation, such that the relation between interest and mastery goal orientation changes at different levels of perceived competence. Implications are drawn for the utility of multiple theories of internal motivation in the field of educational psychology and for further areas of research.
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