Effects of Utility Value and Goals on Task Performance and Interest
Kosovich, Jeffery J.
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The perception of utility in tasks has been shown to facilitate performance and interest. This study (N = 160) is an extension of work by Hulleman and colleagues and is a 2 (success expectancy: high, low) x 2 (utility level: No Utility, Utility) x 2 (goal level: no goal, difficult goal), between-subjects design. Previous findings have shown that individuals with low success expectancies benefit from a utility manipulation, but high success expectancy individuals do not. The current study aimed to facilitate performance and interest, particularly in high expectancy participants. Participants learned a new math technique. After the practice session, participants were prompted to think about the task's utility or not, and were assigned a goal for the final problem sets or not. The researchers hypothesized that there would be a 3-way interaction on performance and interest. Neither hypothesis was supported. However, participants with high versus low success-expectancy performed better, and those in the utility condition found the task more interesting. Implications and future research directions are also discussed.