Rethinking the Value of Choice: A Cultural Perspective on Intrinsic Motivation

Conventional wisdom and decades of psychological research have linked the provision of choice to increased levels of intrinsic motivation, greater persistence, better performance, and higher satisfaction.  This investigation examined the relevance and limitations of these findings for cultures in which individuals possess more interdependent models of the self. In 2 studies, personal choice generally enhanced motivation more for American independent selves than for Asian interdependent selves. In addition, Anglo American children showed less intrinsic motivation when choices were made for them by others than when they made their own choices, whether the others were authority figures or peers. In contrast, Asian American children proved most intrinsically motivated when choices were made for them by trusted authority figures or peers. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.