Individual Interest And Its Implications For Understanding Intrinsic Motivation

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Intrinsic Motivation: Controversies And New Directions


Study of intrinsic motivation refers to elicited attention for content in the sense of enjoyment, curiosity, and so forth, but no assumption can be made about the level of content knowledge. Individual interest, on the other hand, refers to an ongoing and deepening relation of a person to particular subject content that does, in fact, have qualities of full engagement and task orientation. Individual interest and intrinsic motivation do appear to describe similar outcomes. These include the enjoyment of focused and continued engagement in a task for the sake of the task itself, the pursuit of challenge, and the desire for mastery. For individual interest, these outcomes are linked to particular person–subject content relations. For intrinsic motivation, these outcomes apply more generally to human behavior, in the moment (situational interest) and over time (individual interest). As such, individual interest might be considered to provide a developmental context for thinking about intrinsic motivation. It focuses on the relations between each person and particular subject content over time and the impact of these on behavior. Individual interest provides a particular kind of wide-angle lens for thinking about intrinsic motivation because it addresses problem solving, information processing, and control with respect to particular engagement over time. Furthermore, both internal and external factors contribute to its development. Well-developed individual interest cannot develop without the continued challenges that stem from modeling, opportunities to apprentice, and interaction with others.

Published By

Academic Press


C. Sansone and J.M. Harackiewicz

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