Distinguishing subtypes of extrinsic motivation among people with mild to borderline intellectual disability

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According to self-determination theory, motivation is ordered in types, including amotivation, extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Self-determination theory defines four subtypes of extrinsic motivation: external motivation, introjected motivation, identified motivation and integrated motivation. Although it has been argued theoretically that the different types of motivation are universally applicable, Reid et al. (2009) proposed a dichotomy of broad subtypes of extrinsic motivation for people with intellectual disability (ID) due to their cognitive limitations. The current study challenges this proposal by testing whether the four subtypes of extrinsic motivation can be differentiated among people with ID as well.
The subtypes of extrinsic motivation were measured using two adapted versions of the Self-Regulation Questionnaire, one regarding exercise and one regarding support. In total, 186 adults with mild to borderline ID participated in the study.
Results supported the distinction between the four subtypes of extrinsic motivation regarding both exercise and support. In addition, the correlation coefficients supported a quasi-simplex pattern of correlations among the subtypes, indicating that adjacent subtypes were more closely related than non-adjacent subtypes. Moreover, the study showed sufficient Cronbach's alphas and test–retest reliabilities for early stage research.
Overall, the results of the current study provide initial evidence for the universality of the four subtypes of extrinsic motivation across populations with and without ID.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625–636
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


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