The effects of verbal reinforcement of intrinsic motivation for sex-linked tasks

Peter D. Blanck, Harry T. Reis, Linda Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Recent studies have demonstrated that positive verbal feedback enhances males' intrinsic motivation for a task, while decreasing that of females. This result has been attributed to differential socialization forces which make the controlling aspects of rewards more salient for females as opposed to males, for whom the informational aspects are prepotent. A weakness in this conclusion stems from the use of a masculine sex-linked task in prior experiments, producing a result which may be due to gender congruence/incongruence rather than to socialization differences. Two laboratory experiments were performed to examine the effects of verbal praise on intrinsic motivation, controlling for sex-typing of the experimental activity. Experiment I found that verbal praise increased females' and males' intrinsic motivation on both a feminine and masculine task, and intrinsic motivation was higher for sex-appropriate than sex-inappropriate tasks. The sexes did not show a differential pattern of response to praise. In Experiment 2, verbal praise also enhanced sex-role traditional females' intrinsic motivation on the same activity used in prior research. These results suggest that socialization content has changed sufficiently to make concerns about competence and self-determination equally salient for females and males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-386
Number of pages18
JournalSex Roles
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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