leppergreen&nisbett

leppergreen&nisbett - Journal ol Personality and...

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Journal ol Personality and Social Psychology 1973, Vol. 28, No. 1, 129-137 UNDERMINING CHILDREN'S INTRINSIC INTEREST WITH EXTRINSIC REWARD: A TEST OF THE "OVERJUSTIFICATION" HYPOTHESIS MARK R. LEPPER 1 AND DAVID GREENE Stanford University RICHARD E. NISBETT University of Michigan A field experiment was conducted with children to test the "overjustification" hypothesis suggested by self-perception theory—the proposition that a person's intrinsic interest in an activity may be decreased by inducing him to engage in that activity as an explicit means to some extrinsic goal. Children showing intrinsic interest in a target activity during base-line observations were exposed to one of three conditions: In the expected-award condition, subjects agreed to engage in the target activity in order to obtain an extrinsic reward; in the unexpected-award condition, subjects had no knowledge of the reward until after they had finished with the activity; and in the no-award condi- tion, subjects neither expected nor received the reward. The results supported the prediction that subjects in the expected-award condition would show less subsequent intrinsic interest in the target activity than subjects in either of the other two conditions. The process by which man seeks to under- stand his environment—to discern the causes of events which surround him and explain the behavior of others toward him—has been of central concern to social psychology for many years (e.g., Brunswik, 1934; Heider, 1958; Michotte, 1946); but only in the past few years have psychologists concerned themselves with the process by which man explains and understands his own actions and their causes 196S; Jones, Kanouse, Kelley, Nisbett, Val- ins, & Weiner, 1972; Kelley, 1967). Recently, 1 Without the cooperation and assistance of nu- merous individuals this study would never have left the drawing board. In particular, the authors would like to express their special appreciation to the experimenters—Gaye Carskaddon, Annalee Elman, Steve Grushkin, Terri Johnson, Debbie Lapidus, Jim Powell, and Terry Taylor—for their exemplary efforts and constant commiseration during this study and to Edith Dowley, Director, Cathy Cory and Kris Anderson, head teachers, and the staff of Bing Nursery School in Stanford, California, for their invaluable advice and consent throughout the study. Thanks are also due Daryl Bern and Lee Ross for their insightful readings of an earlier version of this article. Requests for reprints should be sent to Mark R. Lepper, Department of Psychology, Stanford Uni- versity, Stanford, California 9430S. theoretical analyses of the process of self- perception or self-attribution by Bern (196S, 1967) and by Kelley (1967) have suggested that processes of self-perception have a com- mon ground with those of other-perception. When an individual observes another per-
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leppergreen&nisbett - Journal ol Personality and...

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