An affect misattribution pathway to perceptions of Intrinsic reward

Published

Journal Article

© 2017 Guilford Publications, Inc. Intrinsic rewards are typically thought to stem from an activity's inherent properties and not from separable rewards one receives from it. Yet, people may not consciously notice or remember all the subtle external rewards that correspond with an activity and may misattribute some directly to the activity itself. We propose that perceptions of intrinsic reward can often be byproducts of misattributed causal inference, and present some initial evidence that perceptions of intrinsic reward can in fact increase when words pertaining to an activity are subtly paired with pleasant context cues. Importantly, these effects follow classic boundary conditions of both misattribution and intrinsic motivation, insofar as they were extinguished when participants could make a proper source attribution and/or when the activity became associated with a blatant external reward. We further propose a distinction can be made between authentically "intrinsic" rewards and the illusion of intrinsic rewards caused by misattributed positive affect.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Leander, NP; Kay, AC; Chartrand, TL; Payne, BK

Published Date

  • January 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 163 - 180

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0278-016X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1521/soco.2017.35.2.163

Citation Source

  • Scopus