Teacher’s motivational orientation is infectious

Teacher’s motivational orientation is infectious

Wild et al (1997) found that perceptions of another’s motivation can influence the formation of expectancies shaping functional significance. These construals occurring through functional significance will affect the motivational outlook of the perceiver. In additional, the authors report that motivation can be “infectious”.

Wild et al (1997) found that perceiving a teacher as extrinsically motivated undermines a students’ task enjoyment, mood, and interest in future learning. Not only did the perception of motivational orientation affect the students, but when these students then worked with other students, the motivational orientation towards the task is passed onto the second student even though they have not had any contact with the teacher. The authors regarded this as the “infectios” nature of motivation. This has large implications for classroom motivation contexts where perceptions of the teacher’s motivational orientation towards a task can be passed on to the entire class.

The authors caution that there is not a direct relationship between teacher motivational orientation and context on student motivational processes. There are mediating processes involved. However, the results of the research strongly suggest that interpersonal cues demonstrating someone’s motivational orientation towards a task modify the perceivers expectations of the task. When the teacher is extrinsically motivated about a task, the perceptions about the task from the student’s perspective were that the teacher had less enjoyment and value for the task; the activity would be less engaging, less enjoyable, and less valuable for the student; and there would be less positive affect associated with the task.

In contrast Wild et al (1997) an analysis disconfirming of extrinsic motivation of the teacher and found that the students’ perceptions of the teacher were that task value and enjoyment were higher; task engagement was higher and perceived to be more enjoyable; and task engagement would be related to positive affect. These are important findings related to teacher’s motivational orientation and student engagement.


Wild, T. C., Enzle, M. E., Nix, G., & Deci, E. L. (1997). Perceiving Others as Intrinsically or Extrinsically Motivated: Effects on Expectancy Formation and Task Engagement. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 23(8), 837.

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