ERIC Number: ED192016
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Sep
Reference Count: 0
Competence Motivation and Children's Free-Play Preferences.
Watson, Malcolm W.
Researchers have studied both competence levels and competence motivation in children. Competence motivation is usually assessed in terms of children's spontaneous preferences for optimal cognitive challenge, but actual spontaneous preferences in free play have seldom been used to assess motivation. In fact, competence level and competence motivation are inseparable since motivation, as it relates to spontaneous preferences, must be assessed by comparison with measures of skill (competence) level. Three experiments assessed children's preferences and demonstrated how they and skill levels could be compared: The Development of Agent Use, The Development of Social-Role Concepts, and The Development of Agent Use and Role Concepts. Results showed that as age increased preschool children showed more preferences for tasks at lower levels than their highest possible skill levels. Reasons included (1) more freedom in choice of activities and content, (2) increasing complexity of free play, (3) use of play as escape or rest from school and other demands, and (4) competence to choose when to meet a challenge and tax one's skills and when to save one's energy and not meet challenges. It was concluded that caution is needed in assuming that children's competence motivation is reflected in spontaneous preference for optional optimal cognitive challenge. (Author/YLB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.; National Institutes of Health (DHEW), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Choice Behavior
Note: Parts of this paper were presented at the meetings of the American Psychological Association (New York, September 1979).