Reward, affect, and young children's motivational orientation

Richard Fabes, Nancy Eisenberg, Jim Fultz, Paul Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In this study we examined the proposition that the detrimental effect of reward on young children's intrinsic motivation may be due to increased negative affect associated with performing the target task under expected reward conditions. Fifty-six children were randomly assigned to one of three non-reward mood induction conditions (positive, negative, neutral) or to a reward, neutral mood induction condition. Children then played an attractive game. Subsequent intrinsic interest was measured in a free-choice period in which rewards were neither forthcoming nor expected and children could freely choose to play with the target game or with other toys. It was found that rewards produced a less positive mood state, which subsequently was related to lowered intrinsic interest in the free-choice situation. In general, the results for the reward/neurtral mood condition paralleled those for the non-reward/negative mood condition. It was concluded that instrumental rewards may induce a temporary negative mood state in young children that can undermine intrinsic motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-169
Number of pages15
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reward, affect, and young children's motivational orientation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this