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School Experience, Reward Characteristics, and Intrinsic Motivation

Suzanne R. Pallak, Steven Costomiris, Susan Sroka and Thane S. Pittman
Child Development
Vol. 53, No. 5 (Oct., 1982), pp. 1382-1391
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129029
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129029
Page Count: 10
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School Experience, Reward Characteristics, and Intrinsic Motivation
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Abstract

The present experiment was conducted to address variations in prior experience with reward and some inconsistencies in previous investigations comparing verbal and symbolic rewards. 5-7-year-old children attending 4 private schools (half of which use symbolic rewards as marks of achievement) saw a videotape that either created the expectation of a performance-contingent reward or did not mention rewards. Except for children in a no-reward control condition, all children were rewarded after 5 min, half with praise (verbal reward) and half with a Good Player Award (symbolic reward). A triple-order interaction was obtained such that children attending schools that did not use symbolic rewards to mark achievement were less likely to draw during the free-play period when given an expected symbolic reward, but were more likely to draw when given a verbal reward. Children attending schools that did not use symbolic rewards to mark achievement, however, did not react differentially to symbolic and verbal rewards but instead were more likely to draw when the reward was expected than when it was unexpected. The nature of prior experience with rewards and reward contingency may affect the relative salience of informational and controlling properties and thereby enhance or undermine intrinsic motivation.

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