Perceived product quality and intrinsic motivation as a partial function of personal orientation and simulated working conditions



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The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships among personal orientation, simulated working conditions, perceived intrinsic motivation and product quality. Relationships among the variables were hypothesized in the form of causal models and regression equations to be tested, which were based on the following tenative theoretical proposition: I. A major motivational propensity of man is to achieve a heightened sense of consciousness. Work or play conditions provide a possible vehicle for intrinsically motivated behavior characterized by this heightened sense of consciousness. Within this context, freedom and/or constraint may be perceived to be facilitative or restrictive of man's full contact with both himself and his environment. II. Where this motivational propensity is thwarted rather than facilitated by perceived restrictions (i.e., threat, external controls, attachment to end states or goals, D-needs, etc.) there results a lowering of consciousness and a diminishing perception that one is intrinsically motivated to perform. III. Under conditions of work, the state of heightened consciousness, or perceived intrinsic motivation will tend to result in a perception of the self to be 'at one with' the work and the products of that work to possess 'higher' quality, in its idiographic sense, than in states marked by ordinary, lower or deficiency dictated consciousness. One hundred and two college students constructed models from tinkertoys under one of four sequences of simulated working conditions composed of two phases each—freedom to freedom, freedom to partial freedom, constraint to partial freedom and constraint to freedom. Prior to the experiment, the subjects were administered the Shostrom Personal Orientation Inventory, in addition to two semantic differential measures developed for this study to assess propensity toward expressive behavior and self-evaluation upon entering the experiment, all as measures of personal orientation. At the conclusion of each of the two phases of the four sequences, the subjects rated themselves on the Alderman Origin-Pawn feelings measure and the product quality measure, the latter being developed for the study. Twelve models were randomly selected, three from each of the four sequences, for rating by eleven external observers using the product quality measure. Hypothesized relations among the variables were tested through correlational, multiple regression and path analytic techniques. The use of these techniques confirmed that the variables are related as follows. Personal orientation was related to perceived intrinsic motivation in the first condition, while perceived intrinsic motivation was related to product quality in the first condition independent of whether subjects were experiencing freedom or constraint. Perceived intrinsic motivation was related to product quality in the second condition. The psychologically 'healthiest' sequencing of conditions appeared to be freedom to freedom, while the least 'healthy' tended to be constraint to partial freedom. Only slight support for a relationship between subjects' and observers' perceptions of model quality was found. The hypothesized theoretical model was generally supported by the findings.



Motivation (Psychology), Intrinsic motivation, Satisfaction