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[Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?

In Chapter Twelve of "History of the Development of the Higher
Psychological Functions", Vygotsky makes a distinction between "motive" and
"stimulus". To me, it's one of those distinctions that is very hard to pin
down, because in life we almost always experience them together (like
"doing" and "undergoing"), and in some ways Vygotsky's terminology is not
particularly helpful (Vygotsky is in reactological mode, and he says that
motive is a "reactive formation crystallized around a formation"). But the
examples he gives are pretty useful.

His first example is from Otto Neurath: it's the use of a "neutral
stimulus" which is voluntarily given the status of motive (like when you
agree to buy everybody lunch if it rains or when Korean kids solemnly
undertake to write their names in the air with their buttocks if they lose
a game). His second example is from William James: it's a patient who
"raises his arm" to a doctor during an operation (or the famous writer
Fanny Burney, who in the eighteenth century had a mastectomy without
anaesthetic; the attendants all ran screaming from the room, and so Fanny
had to hold her own severed breast for the doctor). His third example is
Lewin's "quasi-need"--you don't know where to mail a letter so you
just decide that you will mail it in the first mailbox you see, and just go
out and wander around at random until you see one. In each case, Vygotsky
says, there is a detachment of the motive from the stimulus. But there is
also the reattachment of the motive to something that can be moved
entirely away from what Leontiev would call the "operating conditions" of
the operation; something which, for want of a better term, we can call a
"self", an imaginary character we make up (in both senses of the word) to
act in our place and to behave just a little bit more intelligently and
more morally and more attractively than we normally would.

It seems to me that a trichotomy here would be more useful than a
dichotomy. First, there's the stimulus in all its horror and pain and
fleeting pleasure. Second, there is the detachment of the motive from the
stimulus, which seems to be what we mean when we first differentiate the
"intrinsic" stimulus (the stimulus that makes the activity itself horrible
or painful or pleasurable or interesting) from the "extrinsic" motive (the
long term project that makes it in our interests despite all the horror and
pain and even the pleasure and short-term interest). From this point of
view, extrinsic motivation is a big step forward, because a child be
confronted with some final version of development which can be idealized,
speechified, and moved to the beginning of an action and can assume a
planning function. But then, thirdly, extrinsic motivation somehow has to
be reattached and interiorized. So...my question is--is the "final form" of
development only ever part of the second moment of extrinsic motivation, or
does it have an important role to play in the creation of the self? (When
Andy says that the project to project relation is what forms a personality,
he seems to be saying that it does! But is a role model...or an ideal draft
of a self--really a "project'?)

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 5 August 2014 13:16, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:

> Andrew,
> I think your point about the segregation of children and workers from
> productive activities seems an important point to consider in the larger
> context of why psychologists have been so taken by the intrinsic/extrinsic
> dichotomy. I don't know Danziger but I wonder if there might also be
> something important that comes with separating children from productive
> work. Obviously something is lost here. But it seems that something is
> gained in the sense that children are, at least theoretically, freed from
> necessity. I say "at least theoretically" because in most cases, it is just
> the exchange of one necessity for another: the necessity to labor
> productively is exchanged for the necessity to get good grades. But there
> is the theoretical potential for real, engaging play.
> Also, I wonder if you could expand on this:
> "This dialogic relation between self and object-motive is, I
> think, what's intended by mutual constitution of the subject/object-motive
> in Leont'ev and others' formulations. This is where I've started to make
> headway in thinking about motivation when a child contributes
> collaboratively and with initiative toward a shared motive."
> I'm not sure I follow whether or not you are pointing to a dialogical or
> dialectical relationship, or whether that is a distinction that matters to
> you? (some people make too big a deal about this distinction and others use
> the terms internchangeably so I'm just wondering what you mean by it - for
> my two bits, "mutual constitution" sounds more dialectical to me).
> But more importantly, I was wondering about the headway you are making in
> thinking about motivation. It sounded like there is more here and I'd love
> to hear more.
> Cheers,
> -greg
> p.s. I clipped the message so responses going forward won't have that
> terribly long thread trailing behind (although those threads can be useful
> for finding one's way back...).
> On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 3:46 PM, Andrew Coppens <acoppens@ucsc.edu> wrote:
> > Hi everyone -
> > Thanks in advance for bearing with a long post from a usual listener
> here.
> >
> > I'm also working on an alternative to the deeply entrenched
> > intrinsic/extrinsic dichotomy. I'm trying to explain a pervasive cultural
> > pattern among Indigenous American children: the motivation to contribute
> > autonomously (i.e., under their own initiative) and with responsibility
> to
> > productive family and community endeavors, as integrated participants and
> > meaningful collaborators in cultural activities. What are the
> motivational
> > affordances of children having opportunities to "take part" in mature
> > endeavors? What is the draw of "bigger than me" activities?
> >
> > First, I've found it instructive to consider parallels in historical
> timing
> > between the emergence of a motivational science and the segregation of
> > children from productive work in the middle-class West, both around the
> > turn of the 20th century. Kurt Danziger has written on this in *Naming
> the
> > Mind. *I believe this cultural pattern (the segregation of children and
> > workers from productive activities and their motives) has become somewhat
> > of an unquestioned epistemological principle in canonical motivational
> > theory, and certainly in the intrinsic/extrinsic dichotomy.
> >
> > >From a CHAT perspective, would the idea of an "extrinsic reward" even
> hold
> > water? Mainstream motivational research gives enough evidence to defend
> the
> > idea that when "extrinsic rewards" undermine intrinsic motivation, what
> > might be happening is a transformation of the student's/child's activity
> > and the material reward is the pivot. That new activity (e.g., getting a
> > grade) is not nearly as compelling as mastering material to do something
> > productive and interesting. But "getting a grade" is inherent/intrinsic,
> > not extrinsic, to the activity of IPBSchooling. This motivational
> > transformation can happen in the reverse direction too (see WM Roth and
> RM
> > Larson), through a move from periphery to center a la Lave & Wenger.
> >
> > So, not "extrinsic" but also not "intrinsic" in the conventional sense.
> > When self-in-activity is the unit of analysis for questions about
> > motivation, the intrinsic-as-internal metaphor seems very inadequate.
> > "Intrinsic" comes to encompass the entire activity, and the self in
> > relation to it. This dialogic relation between self and object-motive
> is, I
> > think, what's intended by mutual constitution of the
> subject/object-motive
> > in Leont'ev and others' formulations. This is where I've started to make
> > headway in thinking about motivation when a child contributes
> > collaboratively and with initiative toward a shared motive.
> >
> > There is definitely work on this topic. Ruth Paradise (2005) has a very
> > nice paper in Spanish also using the term "inherent" motivation, and
> > Barbara Rogoff has alluded to this idea in several places in the
> mid-1990s.
> > Dan Hickey and others have written wonderfully about sociocultural
> > perspectives on achievement motivation theory, in ways that would
> coincide
> > with thoughts on this thread so far. Dorothy Lee (1961) calls this
> > "autonomous motivation". There are many others, including key insights
> from
> > Carol Dweck and Mark Lepper.
> >
> > Thanks for listening and hopefully correcting,
> > Andrew
> >
> > ---
> > Andrew D. Coppens
> > www.andrewcoppens.com
> >
> >
> >
> >
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson