Research has implicated two factors in potentially mediating these contradictory effects: the personal control conferred by a choice and the costs associated with motivational option choice. Across four experiments, utilizing a physical effort task disguised as a simple video game, we systematically varied costs across two levels of motivational option effort requirements Low-Requirement, High-Requirement and control over effort costs across three levels of choice Free-Choice, Restricted-Choice, and No-Choice to disambiguate how these factors affect the motivational consequences of choosing within an effortful task.
Together, our results indicated motivational option, in the face of effort requirements, illusory control alone may not sufficiently enhance perceptions of personal control to boost intrinsic motivation; rather, the experience of actual control may be necessary to overcome effort costs and elevate performance. Additionally, we demonstrated that conditions of illusory control, while otherwise unmotivating, can through association with the experience of free-choice, be transformed to have a positive effect on motivation.
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Introduction People will fight for their right to choose in some instances and flip a coin to avoid choosing in others; in parallel, research on the relationship between choice and motivation is complex and has produced results that are often conflicting.
Research on the motivational consequences of choosing, rather than focusing on the content of choices, motivational option focused on how the very act of making a choice influences valuation processes and intrinsic motivation—and the findings have been contradictory.
The act of making a choice, separable from any extrinsic gains motivational option losses the decision may incur, has been linked to both motivational enhancements and decrements Botti and Iyengar, ; Patall et al.
From these paradoxical findings, however, two major factors have emerged as potential mediators of whether the act of choosing has a positive or negative effect on intrinsic motivation: 1 the personal control provided by a choice and 2 the costs associated with making a choice Patall, Thus, the utility of making a choice, in terms of its effect on motivation, may be recast as a joint function of the motivational option provided by and costs associated with that choice.
Yet, little is known about how control and cost, separately and conjointly, influence the motivational effects of the act of choosing. Accordingly, the purpose of the current study is to disambiguate how control and cost affect the motivational consequences of choosing within an effortful task.
There is substantial evidence that the act of making choices, in and of itself, is intrinsically rewarding and motivating Leotti et al.
For example, there is a measurable preference for options that lead to a subsequent, additional choice over options leading to a forced-choice, even when there are no material differences in outcomes Suzuki,; Bown et al. Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that free-choices, although they bestow no additional extrinsic reward, enhance neural activation in value-related regions, both when anticipating a choice Leotti and Delgado, ; Fujiwara motivational option al.
These studies suggest that intrinsic value is assigned to the very process of active decision making.
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Furthermore, engaging in active decision making can confer a variety of performance-related benefits, facilitating intrinsic motivation, performance, and effort exertion Patall et al. Conversely, there are also certain contexts in which passivity is valued and choice is avoided or appears to have a discounting effect on outcomes Samuelson and Zeckhauser, ; Burger, ; Ritov and Baron, ; Anderson, ; Leotti and Delgado, This propensity for passive decision strategies suggests that avoiding decisions can also carry utility.
This supposition, too, is supported by functional neuroimaging evidence demonstrating that passively maintaining a default option, rather than making an active decision, engaged the same neural region activated by winning motivational option Yu et al. Furthermore, in some circumstances, making choices may have deleterious effects on motivation and performance Burger, ; Flowerday and Schraw, ; Botti and Iyengar, ; Vohs et al.
As choice can, depending on context, have a very different impact on intrinsic motivation and related outcomes, there is a need to identify contextual factors that mediate these effects. One potential mediating factor can be drawn from a frequent theme in psychological research: that perceptions of personal where to buy bitcoin coins are intrinsically motivating Rotter, ; Rodin and Langer, ; Ryan and Deci, ; Motivational option et al.
Thus, it may not be the act of decision making per se that bestows psychological benefits but instead the sense of personal control conferred by making a decision. Consistent with this proposition, evidence suggests that the degree of personal control offered by a decision may mediate between its beneficial versus detrimental effects on intrinsic motivation Katz and Assor, ; Patall, Further, studies that have dissociated perceptions of control from decision making scenarios have demonstrated that choices engendering perceptions of control, rather than the mere act of choice, were linked to motivational benefits Motivational option et al.
Thus, substantial evidence indicates exercising personal control through making choices enhances intrinsic motivation. However, very few studies have directly, empirically assessed the role of personal control on the motivational effects of decision making.
Effort is frequently cited as a principal cost in decision-making, and there is a well-demonstrated effort discounting effect, whereby effort decreases the utility of related outcomes Botvinick et al. Similarly, in the context of choice, there is evidence that as decision-related costs increase, the utility and positive effects of choice are undermined.
Making choices under conditions of high costs—effort costs, a loss frame, or negative emotions—can attenuate the appeal of engaging in active choice Samuelson and Zeckhauser, ; Beattie et al. Furthermore, making choices in a context of increased costs can give rise to negative consequences such as reduced satisfaction with outcomes, increased negative emotions, and diminished performance Garbarino and Edell, ; Iyengar and Lepper, ; Botti and Motivational option, ; Gourville and Soman, ; Vohs et al.
Specifically, we utilized two levels of physical effort costs a high and low effort requirement; hereafter High-Requirement and Low-Requirementand three levels of control over effort costs: real control Free-Choiceillusory control Restricted-Choiceand no control No-Choice. We assessed the motivational outcomes of choice via preference and performance linked to the different conditions, as these measures are commonly utilized in the choice literature as a proxy for motivation Patall et al.
As the focus of the present investigation was the impact of control and cost on intrinsic motivation, our experimental task utilized performance motivational option rather than extrinsic reinforcers such as monetary reward. We had three overarching hypotheses across four experiments comprising this study. Finally, based on a combination of evidence suggesting that a context of high costs and low personal control may produce a particularly damaging coalition, we anticipated that preference for and performance on an motivational option task should be motivational option most severely at the junction of high effort motivational option and low personal control i.
Thus, we hypothesized that III intrinsic motivation and thus motivational outcomes would be most strongly diminished when no choice is offered, but effort expenditures are high.
Across four experiments, our approach to testing these hypotheses was to first examine the individual influences of cost effort requirements and control choice conditions and then combine these factors to test their conjoint effects on motivational outcomes.
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General Method Participants were adult undergraduate students, recruited from Rutgers University-Newark, who provided written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and were compensated with course credit. To test study hypotheses, we created a novel physical effort task in E-Prime Psychology Software Tools, Pittsburgh, PA, USAwhich employed, in different combinations across four experiments, three choice conditions offering different levels of control described below over two levels of physical effort costs.
See Figure 1 for a trial schematic.
The task is further detailed in the Supplementary Materials. Choice and Effort Conditions Four variations on this task were implemented, comprising four separate experiments with non-overlapping participant samples. While each individual experiment involved a different subset of conditions indexed in Table 1the full set of choice control and effort cost conditions are defined here. The full set of conditions included two levels of effort costs Low-Requirement and High-Requirement, as defined by the number of key presses required and three levels of control across choice conditions Free-Choice, Restricted-Choice, and No-Choice, as defined by the level of control over effort costs conferred by the blaster options offered.
The three choice conditions directly manipulated level of control over effort requirements motivational option offering real control, illusory control, and no control, respectively for further detail see Supplementary Materials. Subtle blaster color categories represented the choice and effort conditions, with motivational option similarly colored exemplar blasters in each category see Figure 2.
Control and Effort Costs Influence the Motivational Consequences of Choice
Participants were given no explicit information regarding how the blaster cue color categories mapped onto choice and effort contingencies. Across all experiments, choice and effort conditions were presented in random order. To fill the charge bar, Low-Requirement blasters required a random number of presses between 11 and 20, while High-Requirement blasters required a random number of presses between 21 and Effort requirements motivational option of presses were randomly drawn from ranges that were only subtly different between conditions so that effort contingencies would be somewhat uncertain.
This feature of our design allowed implementation of our Restricted-Choice condition detailed in Experiment 2. See the Supplementary Materials for further detail regarding conditions and stimuli sets. Conditions in each experiment. Schematic of a single trial within the tasks. During the cue period, a screen presented blaster options two options for Choice or a single blaster for No-Choice until the participant responded. Outcomes indicating whether the charge bar was successfully filled in the given time were displayed for ms.
Example blaster stimuli set. Across all experiments, conditions were counterbalanced with respect to color to create four blaster sets per experiment within the following constraints: color-hue green vs. Preference and Performance Four experiments tested the effects of motivational option combinations of choice control and effort costs conditions see Table 1 on preference for and performance on choice- and effort- related trials. Each blaster was rated before and after playing the game.
Motivational option both rating sessions all blasters were visible on the screen. As such, ratings inherently represented preference in relation to the whole set of blaster cues for a given game.
In each experiment, pre-game ratings were statistically compared to ensure there was no systematic bias in preference before the game. Preference change scores motivational option statistically compared across experimental conditions.
Additionally, to determine whether preference changes were different than no change, preference change scores were statistically compared to zero. Performance was operationalized as the percentage of successful trials in a given condition. Thus, the two dependent variables across all four experiments were the change in preference for blasters associated with each condition and the percentage of successful trials in each condition. All error bars throughout the manuscript represent standard error of the mean.
Set of Experiments The choice and effort conditions were introduced into the game incrementally across successive experiments so that individual and potential interactive effects of differing levels of cost and control could be detected. Experiment 1 tested the effects of a variable effort requirement alone, using only No-Choice trials of Low- or High-Requirement. Experiment 2 tested motivational option effects of mere choice alone, using only Low-Requirement trials preceded by either No-Choice or Restricted-Choice.
Experiments 3 and 4 tested the combined effects of choice and effort, both using two levels of effort Low-Requirement, High-Requirement and varied levels of control over effort costs.
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The key difference between Experiments 3 and 4 is that Experiment 3 utilized two levels of control across choice conditions Restricted-Choice, No-Choicewhile Experiment 4 utilized three levels of control across choice conditions Free-Choice, Restricted-Choice, No-Choice.
Experiment 1: Variable Effort Requirement, Constant No-Choice Game Experiment 1 used trials of either Low- or High-Requirement, while holding the control factor constant with only No-Choice trials in order to test the effects of different levels of effort costs on preference and performance. In this experiment we further sought to establish baseline preference and performance levels for Low- and High-Requirement trials in the absence of choice.
The No-Choice condition was implemented by offering participants a single blaster per trial. In line with our first hypothesis, we predicted that participants would show an increased preference for and enhanced performance on Low- compared to High-Requirement trials.
Participants were randomly motivational option to one of four counterbalanced sets of stimuli see Motivational option 2. Two stimuli sets were composed of only the green blasters and two sets of only orange.
Within all four sets of blaster stimuli, the color-value lightness vs. Experiment 1: Results Preference Figure 3A shows the change in preference for Low- and High-Requirement blaster cues, motivational option a seven point Likert-type scale, from before to after participants played the Experiment 1 Game. Preference ratings for Low-Requirement blasters increased from an average pre-game rating of 4. For High-Requirement blasters, preference ratings decreased from an average pre-game rating of 4.
There were no gender differences in the change in preference for either condition. B Success rates for conditions in Experiment 1. Experiment 1: Discussion In this experiment in which only effort costs were varied, we sought to establish baseline levels of preference for and performance on Low-Requirement and High-Requirement conditions when there was no control over effort costs.
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Based on effort discounting theory, which holds that the value of an outcome is discounted by its associated effort requirement, we hypothesized that participants would show enhanced preference and performance for the Low- compared to High-Requirement condition.
These hypotheses were supported, as evidenced by strong preference for Low-Requirement blasters. High success rates across conditions confirmed that both the Low and High levels of effort were achievable for subjects.
Success rates were moderately higher in the Low-Requirement condition, although this difference did not reach significance.
Thus, results from subsequent experiments can be interpreted in light of participants preferring Low- to High-Requirement and showing a modest, albeit non-significant, boost in performance in the Low-Requirement condition.
While men and women did not show a difference in their preferences for the effort conditions, men performed significantly better than women across both effort conditions. As the task was disguised a video game, performance differences may have been due to men potentially motivational option more favorable perceptions of the task. Experiment 2: Variable Choice, Constant Low Effort Requirement Game Experiment 2 used Low-Requirement trials of either Restricted- or No-Choice to test motivational option effects of different levels of control illusory control and no control, respectively on preference and performance, with effort level held constant.
In this experiment we sought to establish baseline preference and performance levels for Restricted- and No-Choice trials in the context of a low effort requirement. While the No-Choice condition offered only one blaster for participants to use, the Restricted-Choice conditions offered two blasters from the same effort requirement category Low-Requirement in this experiment. Thus, the Restricted-Choice condition motivational option not grant any actual control over effort requirements.
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However, control is often inferred even when individuals actually possess none Langer, ; Wegener and Wheatley, ; Davis et al. To further promote this tendency of presuming personal control, three features were implemented including: 1 giving motivational option no explicit information regarding the choice and effort conditions, 2 subtle mapping of blaster cues colors onto choice and effort contingencies that had to be learned through experience, and 3 drawing effort requirements from a range in this experiment, the Low-Requirement range of 11—20 presses so that the effort required was somewhat ambiguous.
While these features were implemented across all experimental conditions, we expected that the ambiguity created would particularly motivational option perceptions of control when participants were given a choice Restricted-Choice condition. Although the control offered by the Restricted-Choice condition was only illusory, motivational option illusory control enhances valuation and intrinsic motivation Cordova and Lepper, ; Clark et al.
Thus, in line with our second motivational option hypothesis, we Jews make money that participants would show enhanced preference and performance for Restricted- compared to No-Choice trials, even though the Restricted-Choice condition provided no actual means for reducing effort costs.
On the other hand, if participants accurately perceived that the Restricted-Choice condition offered no actual control, then we would not expect to see enhancements in motivational outcomes for the Restricted- relative to the No-Choice condition Moller et al. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four counterbalanced sets of stimuli see Figure 1. Two stimuli sets were composed of only motivational option colored blasters light green and light orange and two sets of only dark colored blasters dark green and dark orange.
Within all four sets, color-hue green vs. The Restricted-Choice condition was implemented by offering a choice between two blasters of slightly different colors that were both from the Low-Requirement condition. Importantly, choice in this condition did not confer any control over effort costs, however, this may not have been apparent to participants. Blocks repeated three times across the game, resulting in a total of 48 Restricted-Choice, Low-Requirement trials and 48 No-Choice, Low-Requirement trials.
Experiment 2: Results Preference Figure 4A shows the change in preference for Restricted- and No-Choice blaster cues from before to after participants played the Experiment 2 Game. Across both the Restricted- and No-Choice conditions, preference ratings decreased from similar average pre-game ratings of 5.
From before to after the game, preference for both conditions decreased approximately 0.
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There were no gender differences motivational option preference, nor in performance for either condition. There was no difference in preference change between Restricted- and No-Choice blasters.
B Success rates for conditions in Experiment 2. Experiment 2: Discussion This experiment motivational option conditions motivational option No-Choice and Restricted-Choice for the purpose of determining the impact of no control and illusory control, respectively, on preference for and performance on trials requiring only low effort levels. As illusory control can have a beneficial effect on valuation and intrinsic motivation Cordova and Lepper, ; Clark et al.
However, this hypothesis was not supported, as there were no meaningful or significant differences between the two choice conditions. Across both choice conditions, preference for blasters decreased very slightly and to the same degree. These changes in preference were neither significantly different from one another nor significantly different from no change. Similarly, there was no difference in success rates between the two conditions.
While previous studies have found positive motivational effects of choices offering only illusory control, many such studies involved choices in a context of rewarding outcomes or intrinsically motivating situations.
However, there is evidence that a context of costs may reduce the positive effects of choice Iyengar and Lepper, ; Gourville and Soman, ; Fleming motivational option al. For example, a series of experiments by Leotti and Delgado demonstrated that losses, compared to gains, can diminish the affective experience of exercising personal control via making choices. As effort is weighed as a cost in the decision making process in much the same manner as monetary losses Botvinick et al.
Our results are consistent with work by End of day binary options et al. Thus, the results from the current experiment suggest that when choice is limited and offers only illusory control, an effortful context may undermine the potential motivational benefits often associated with choice.
Within this experiment we examined hypotheses two and three: that preference and performance ratings would favor conditions where greater control is perceived, and that low control but high effort would have the combined influence of diminishing motivational outcomes. As in Experiment 2, the Restricted-Choice condition did not confer any control over effort costs, as the blaster options offered in Restricted-Choice were always within the same effort category e.
Thus, the perception of control was free to subjectively vary, while actual control was effectively zero across both choice conditions. Although there was no effect of choice on preference or performance in Experiment 2, which involved only low effort requirements, we predicted that the addition of a High-Requirement condition might elicit a positive motivational effect from the Restricted-Choice condition.
We specifically hypothesized that the contrast of having two levels of effort might increase the salience of personal control, as participants tried to exercise control motivational option avoid the higher effort costs in line with participant preference for Low-Requirement established in Experiment 1.