Date of Award

12-2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Komarraju, Meera

Abstract

Self-determination theory (SDT) has been used to study motivation and motivational strategies within many different domains one of the most pertinent being academia. The theory emphasizes the importance of autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs and places a strong emphasis on environmental factors as both fostering and impeding of motivational energies, while simultaneously giving less importance to intrapersonal determinants of motivation such as personality and attachment. This gap in the literature was addressed in this study by investigating that aspect of academic motivation which has not been of a salient interest to SDT. To test the hypotheses that Neuroticism, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and attachment styles are associated with Intrinsic Motivation, with attachment being a stronger predictor, 272 participants at a midsize university completed a survey including scales assessing personality traits, attachment style, and academic motivation. Data were analyzed using correlation, regression, and moderation analyses and as hypothesized, all three personality traits were significantly associated with Anxiety and Avoidance attachment dimensions, which in turn were related to Intrinsic Motivation, though only partially. Attachment Avoidance emerged as the most important dimension of attachment accounting for a significant amount of variance in Intrinsic Motivation beyond personality and illustrating the relatedness component of self-determination theory. Implications of these results include both theoretical (example, conceptualizing relatedness in terms of attachment Avoidance), and practical (example, suggestions for instructors on methods for increasing student Intrinsic Motivation) aspects.

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