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[Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?

Hi Greg and all,
I'm enjoying this thread and wish I could participate more closely.

I want to first respond to the point about "necessity" to labor. The bulk
of the research I've done here focuses on children's initiative in family
household chores. Arguably, the families with the most necessity for
children's help are middle-class dual-earner families with big homes that
require lots of upkeep but who have very little time and little help from
extended family members. Yet, these are the families in which children
contribute the least, and seldom with initiative. Rather, the little they
do is often assigned by parents, rewarded with praise and allowances, and
is often accomplished with lots of struggle. Without a doubt the best data
available on pattern for US middle-class families is here:

Also, in many Indigenous American communities play and work are inseparable
for young children (and they also go to school). Inge Bolin's 2006 book
documents this beautifully. Suzanne Gaskins has found that toddlers in a
Mayan community actually choose to be involved in work over play. This
makes sense to me. Why play with dolls when you can climb up on your own
developmental shoulders and help care for a real baby, sharing this
fundamental motive with expert caregivers in your community? To be sure,
these patterns are changing.

On to your question, Greg. Thanks for the correction on dialogic/dialectic;
I meant the latter. It's the creative tension between subject and
object-motive that's of interest here to me and to my ideas about
motivation and children's integration in mature family/community endeavors.
Let me use the caregiving example above. When children can collaborate with
adults and contribute to this endeavor, not in a child-specific proscribed
way but as an integrated novice, I think the "pull" or "motivation" to
contribute can be immense. And, because the object of the activity is
shared I think the subjectivity of the child expands along with it. When we
interviewed children in an Indigenous-heritage community of Guadalajara,
Mexico about what they personally did to help children insisted on the
"pronoun" we. We asked again about "your" contributions, and they corrected
with "we". This is written up briefly here: Coppens, A. D., Alcalá, L.,
Mejía-Arauz, R., & Rogoff, B. (2014). Children's initiative in family
household work in Mexico. *Human Development, 57*(2-3), 116-130. doi:

Just to make it interesting: I'm also thinking about "helping the family"
as a leading developmental activity in the sense that Elkonin has written
about the idea, with long-lasting motivational and developmental
affordances, for children from many Latino families (at least those who
have lots of experience pitching in collaboratively throughout childhood).
There's some evidence that "helping the family" can support academic
achievement in college for these youth.

Thanks everyone,

On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 9:16 PM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>

> 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