Volume 5, Article 21
The impact of intrinsic motivation on positive personality characteristics
Peter J. Stanley, Nicola S. Schutte, and Wendy J. Phillips
Citation: Stanley, P. J., Schutte, N. S., & Phillips, W. J. (2021). The impact of intrinsic motivation on positive personality characteristics. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 5, 21, 1-11. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-5-2021/volume-5-article-21/
Processing dates: Submitted 31st May 2021; Accepted 28th September 2021; Published 20th December 2021
Background: Self-Determination Theory suggests that greater intrinsic motivation may lead to a higher level of positive affect. According to the Broaden and Build Theory, higher levels of positive affect may facilitate development of resources. Such resources may include characteristics such as self-efficacy, empathy, emotional intelligence, character strengths, and self-compassion.
Objectives: This study aimed to examine the relationship between intrinsic motivation and positive personality characteristics, and understand whether positive affect mediated these relationships.
Methods: One hundred and eighty participants completed measures of trait intrinsic motivation, affect, and several positive personality characteristics (self-efficacy, empathic perspective taking, empathic concern, emotional intelligence, character strengths, and self-compassion). Participants were then randomly assigned to an intrinsic motivation for self-compassion prime condition or a control condition and then completed measures of state affect and state self-compassion. Correlational analyses, mediation analyses, and ANCOVAS were completed.
Results: High intrinsic motivation was associated with high positive affect and higher levels of the positive personality characteristics. Positive affect mediated the relationship between intrinsic motivation and five of the six personality characteristics. Participants in the prime condition had greater state positive affect and self-compassion. Positive affect mediated the effect of the prime on self-compassion.
Conclusion: These results link intrinsic motivation and positive personality characteristics and suggest that intrinsic motivation may increase positive affect which, in turn, may lead to higher levels of positive personality characteristics.
Keywords: affect; broaden and build; intrinsic motivation; positive affect; positive personality characteristics;
Peter J. Stanley is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW,
Nicole S. Schutte is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW,
Dr Wendy J. Phillips is with the Department of Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, 2351, Australia