Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology





First Advisor

Stephen L. O'Keefe


An experiment was designed to compare the effects of self-imposed, externally imposed, and a no reward control, on children's interest in both a high and low listening task. A hypothesis grounded in personal control theory predicted that self-imposed rewards would increase subsequent task interest, whereas externally imposed reward would interact with initial task interest and would yield a decrease in interest for the high interest task and an increase in interest for the low interest task. A secondary hypothesis predicted that children would self-reward with greater magnitude on the low interest task. The subjects, 48 boys and 48 girls from the fifth and sixth grades, were asked to listen to either Music or Voice tapes in one of the three reward conditions. The primary dependent measure was the amount of time they continued to listen to the tape during a free-time observation period. Results did not support either hypothesis. The only significant effect of tangible reward was an observed increase in subsequent listening time for girls who were externally rewarded for listening to music. Self-reward magnitude did not vary significantly between the high and low interest tasks. However, boys and girls differed significantly in their self-reward behavior across trials. Results are discussed in terms of the efficacy of intended manipulations. Suggestions for future research strategies are offered.



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