chapter  2
12 Pages


The problem of motivating persons to their tasks has been of perennial impor­ tance in human affairs. Pervasively, individuals have vested interests in the activities of others. Parents and educators are concerned about the appropriate channeling of children’s behaviors. Employers have a stake in keeping the em­ ployees at their jobs. Lovers desire to attract to themselves their partners’ atten­ tion, etc. Not surprisingly, the problem of task motivation has received attention from diverse psychological perspectives, e.g., in the domains of industrial psy­ chology (cf. Herzberg, 1966; Vroom, 1969), developmental psychology (Hunt, 1965), social psychology (cf. Deci, 1975; Kruglanski, Riter, Amitai, Margolin, Shabtai, & Zaksh, 1975; Lepper, Greene, & Nisbett, 1973), personality theory (Allport, 1961), learning theory (Spence, 1970), and motivation theory (cf. Day, Berlyne, & Hunt, 1971). Within social psychology, a recent upsurge of interest in task motivation dates to the late 1960s (e.g., de Charms, 1968) and the early 1970s (e.g., Deci, 1971; Kruglanski, Friedman, & Zeevi, 1971). My purpose in this chapter is to outline the conceptual background of this trend.