chapter  2
18 Pages

Developmental Precursors of Success and Failure Experience

WithHeinz Heckhausen

Inquiring into the nature and antecedents of pleasure, Nuttin (1973) has distinguished between stimulation pleasure and causality pleasure. He offered impressive evidence that event production ("causality pleasure") is more motivating and attractive than mere stimulus change. Five-year olds were confronted with two equal looking automats, each equipped with two colored electrical bulbs and two handles. The bulbs of automat A lighted automatically in an alternative rhythm of 0.25 sec. As to automat B, the bulbs were either out or on and could be switched on or extinguished, respectively, when the corresponding handle was moved. Each child was free to manipulate each of the two automats for half an hour and again when reintroduced into the experimental room for a second time. Subjects clearly preferred automat B over automat A, as evidenced by total time spent, spontaneous preference at the beginning of the second session, and verbal communications. Switching off colored light turned out to be more attractive than looking at a continuous change of stimulation.