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Cognitive Evaluation Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Cognitive Evaluation Theory

Description | Example | So what? | See also | References 

 

Description

When looking at task, we evaluate it in terms of how well it meets our needs to feel competent and in control. If we think we will be able to complete the task, we will be intrinsically motivated to complete the task, requiring no further external motivation.

Where a person has a stronger internal locus of control they will feel they are in control of how they behave. Where they have a stronger external locus of control, they will believe the environment or others have a greater influence over what they do.

People may see external rewards as achieving some degree of control over them or may see the reward as informational, such as where they reinforce feelings of competence and self-determination. When people see the reward as mostly for control they will be motivated by gaining the reward but not by enacting the requested behavior.

Cognitive Evaluation is occasionally  also called Self-Perception Theory, although this confuses it with Bem's Self-Perception Theory.

Example

If you tell me that I have to run for President, I will not exactly throw my heart into the job. If, however, you tell me how the local council is looking for someone like me, who wants to help in local schools, then I'll be there before you have finished the sentence!

So what?

When you ask someone to do something, if you want them to be motivated then ensure that it falls within their current level of competency.

See also

Bounded Rationality, Control Theory, Expectancy Theory, Extrinsic Motivation, Intrinsic Motivation, Overjustification Effect

References

Deci (1975), Deci and Ryan (1985), Deci and Ryan (1991)

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