Sheena Iyengar

“Rethinking the Value of Choice: Considering Cultural Mediators of Intrinsic Motivation”

Coauthor(s): Sanford DeVoe.

Editors: Virginia Murphy-Berman and John J. Berman

Over a decade ago, these two perspectives on motivation--Deci and Ryan?s (1991) theory of self-determination and Triandis? (1990) cultural theory of individualism-collectivism--were presented at the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation as discrete areas of inquiry in psychology. The consecutive presentation of these perspectives was portentous--both in terms of the research to follow and the recognition by many psychologists that social psychological findings need to be understood within the socio-cultural context in which they occur. Indeed, subsequent to these Nebraska Symposia, a wealth of psychological theory and research has challenged the predictions of self-determination theory (e.g., deCharms, 1968; Deci, 1971, 1975, 1981; Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1991). Examining the effects of cultural norms and values on human motivation suggests that the pursuit of self-determination and the exercising of personal choice are invariably mediated by culture. This chapter is dedicated to providing an understanding of how the concepts of culture and choice interact with one another to influence human motivation. Specifically, we will review historical findings concerning the relationship between choice and intrinsic motivation, and then draw upon the increasingly complex cultural analyses provided by researchers studying self-construal (e.g., Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998; Heine & Lehman, 1997, in press; Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Markus, Kitayama, & Heiman, 1996), moral development (e.g., Miller, 1984, 1994, 1997; Miller & Bersoff, 1992, 1994, 1998; Miller, Bersoff, & Harwood, 1990; Miller & Luthur, 1989), and human cognition (e.g., Choi & Nisbett, 1998; Ji, Schwartz, & Nisbett, 2000; Menon, Morris, Chiu, & Hong, 1999; Morris & Peng, 1994; Norenzayan & Nisbett, 2000; Peng & Nisbett, 1999). We will then synthesize across these multiple streams of research by offering a cultural perspective on the relationship between culture, choice, and intrinsic motivation.

Source: Cross-Cultural Differences in Perspectives on the Self
Exact Citation:
Iyengar, Sheena, and Sanford DeVoe. "Rethinking the Value of Choice: Considering Cultural Mediators of Intrinsic Motivation." In Cross-Cultural Differences in Perspectives on the Self, vol. 49 of the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation. Ed. Virginia Murphy-Berman and John J. Berman. Lincoln, Neb.; London: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.
Place: Lincoln, Neb.; London
Date: 2003