Predicting the Subjective Experience of Intrinsic Motivation: The Roles of Self-Determination, the Balance of Challenges and Skills, and Self-Realization Values

Alan S. Waterman, Seth J. Schwartz, Edie Goldbacher, Hope Green, Christine Miller, Susheel Philip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

63 Scopus citations


A series of studies was conducted to investigate the contributions of self-determination, perceived competence, and self-realization values to the subjective experience of intrinsic motivation. Using varying sets of instructions in these studies, college undergraduates generated and subsequently evaluated panels of identity-related activities. Three measures of the subjective experience of intrinsic motivation were used as outcome variables: (a) interest, (b) flow experiences, and (c) feelings of personal expressiveness. These subjective experience measures were strongly intercorrelated. Across studies, self-determination was found to be strongly associated with all of the subjective experience measures. In contrast, self-realization values made larger contributions to flow experiences and to personal expressiveness than to interest. Perceived competence, although significantly correlated with all subjective experience measures, played a considerably smaller role in the prediction of intrinsic motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1458
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003



  • Competence
  • Flow
  • Interest
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Personal expressiveness
  • Self-determination
  • Self-realization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Psychology

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