The Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) is a multidimensional measurement device intended to assess participants’ subjective experience related to a target activity in laboratory experiments.
It has been used in several experiments related to intrinsic motivation and self-regulation – originating from original studies by Ryan, 1982 and Ryan, Mims & Koestner, 1983; See also Plant & Ryan, 1985; Ryan, Connell, & Plant, 1990; Ryan, Koestner & Deci, 1991; Deci, Eghrari, Patrick, & Leone, 1994). The instrument yields six subscale scores assessing participants’:
- perceived competence,
- felt pressure and tension, and
- perceived choice while performing a given activity.
- Recently, a seventh subscale has been added to tap the experiences of relatedness, although the validity of this subscale has yet to be fully established.
The interest/enjoyment subscale is considered the self-report measure of intrinsic motivation; thus, although the overall questionnaire is called the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory, it is only the one subscale that assesses intrinsic motivation, per se. As a result, the interest/enjoyment subscale often has more items on it that do the other subscales. The perceived choice and perceived competence concepts are theorized to be positive predictors of both self-report and behavioral measures of intrinsic motivation, and pressure/tension is theorized to be a negative predictor of intrinsic motivation. Effort is a separate variable that is relevant to some motivation questions, so is used it its relevant. The value/usefulness subscale is used in internalization studies (e.g., Deci et al, 1994), the idea being that people internalize and become self-regulating with respect to activities that they experience as useful or valuable for themselves. Finally, the relatedness subscale is used in studies having to do with interpersonal interactions, friendship formation, and so on.
The IMI consists of varied numbers of items from these subscales, all of which have been shown to be factor analytically coherent and stable across a variety of tasks, conditions, and settings. The general criteria for inclusion of items on subscales have been a factor loading of at least 0.6 on the appropriate subscale, and no cross loadings above 0.4. Typically, loadings substantially exceed these criteria. Nonetheless, we recommend that investigators perform their own factor analyses on new data sets. Past research suggests that order effects of item presentation appear to be negligible, and the inclusion or exclusion of specific subscales appears to have no impact on the others. Thus, it is rare that all items have been used in a particular experiment. Instead, experimenters have chosen the subscales that are relevant to the issues they are exploring.
Adaptations and Interpretations of the IMI
The IMI items have often been modified slightly to fit specific activities. For example, an item such as “I tried very hard to do well at this activity” can be changed to “I tried very hard to do well on these puzzles” or “…in learning this material” without effecting its reliability or validity. As one can readily tell, there is nothing subtle about these items; they are quite face-valid. However, in part, because of their straightforward nature, caution is needed in interpretation. We have found, for example, that correlations between self-reports of effort or interest and behavioral indices of these dimensions are quite modest–often around 0.4. Like other self-report measures, there is always the need to appropriately interpret how and why participants report as they do. Ego- involvements, self-presentation styles, reactance, and other psychological dynamics must be considered. For example, in a study by Ryan, Koestner, and Deci (1991), we found that when participants were ego involved, the engaged in pressured persistence during a free choice period and this behavior did not correlate with the self-reports of interest/enjoyment. In fact, we concluded that to be confident in one’s assessment of intrinsic motivation, one needs to find that the free-choice behavior and the self-reports of interest/enjoyment are significantly correlated.
Another issue is that of redundancy. Items within the subscales overlap considerably, although randomizing their presentation makes this less salient to most participants. Nonetheless, shorter versions have been used and been found to be quite reliable. The incremental R for every item above 4 for any given factor is quite small. Still, it is very important to recognize that multiple item subscales consistently outperform single items for obvious reasons, and they have better external validity.
On The Scale page, there are five sections. First, the full 45 items that make up the 7 subscales are shown, along with information on constructing your own IMI and scoring it. Then, there are four specific versions of the IMI that have been used in past studies. This should give you a sense of the different ways it has been used. These have different numbers of items and different numbers of subscales, and they concern different activities.
- First, there is a standard, 22-item version that has been used in several studies, with four subscales: interest/ enjoyment, perceived competence, perceived choice, and pressure/tension.
- Second, there is a short 9-item version concerned with the activity of reading some text material; it has three subscales: interest/enjoyment, perceived competence, and pressure/tension.
- Then, there is the 25-item version that was used in the internalization study, including the three subscales of value/usefulness, interest/enjoyment, and perceived choice.
- Finally, there is a 29-item version of the interpersonal relatedness questionnaire that has five subscales: relatedness, interest/enjoyment, perceived choice, pressure/tension, and effort.
Finally, McAuley, Duncan, and Tammen (1987) did a study to examine the validity of the IMI and found strong support for its validity.
A growing interest in the functional importance of dispositional autonomy led to the development and validation of the Index of Autonomous Functioning (IAF) across seven studies (Weinstein, Przybylski, & Ryan, 2012). The IAF provides a brief and reliable measure of trait autonomy based on three theoretically derived subscales assessing authorship/self-congruence, interest-taking, and low susceptibility to control. Initial validation studies showed consistency within and across subscales, and appropriate placement within a nomological network of constructs. Diary studies demonstrated IAF relations with higher well-being, greater daily satisfaction of basic psychological needs, and more autonomous engagement in daily activities. Using an experimental approach, the IAF was shown to predict more positive interactions among dyads. Please note that when using the subscales separately, the interest-taking subscale is still in exploratory phase of validation.
This packet contains three questionnaires that have been developed to assess constructs contained within Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as the theory relates to health-care behavior (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Williams, Deci, & Ryan, 1999). The first is the Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire (TSRQ); the second is the Perceived Competence Scale (PCS); and the third is the Health Care Climate Questionnaire (HCCQ). The TSRQ also appears on the page with the other Self-Regulation Questionnaires; the PCS also appears on the page with the other Perceived Competence Questionnaires; and the HCCQ appears on the page with the other Perceived Autonomy Support Questionnaires. We have brought them together here within one packet to make it easier for people who are interested in health care research to have them all together. Further, on this page we have four versions of each of the three questionnaire, relating to four different health relevant behaviors: namely, smoking cessation, diet improvement, exercising regularly, and drinking responsibly.
This scale is derived from Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985). It is intended to assess the strength of three different motivational orientations within an individual. These orientations, labelled Autonomy, Controlled, and Impersonal, are understood as relatively enduring aspects of personality, and each is theorized to exist within each individual to a greater or lesser extent. There are three subscales to this measure, and a person gets a score on each.
The Autonomy Orientation assesses the extent to which a person is oriented toward aspects of the environment that stimulate intrinsic motivation, are optimally challenging, and provide informational feedback. A person high in autonomy orientation (relative to others) is likely to display greater self- initiation, seek jobs that are interesting and challenging, and take greater responsibility for his or her own behavior.
The Controlled Orientation assesses the extent to which a person is oriented toward being controlled by rewards, deadlines, structures, ego-involvements, and other people’s directives. People high on the controlled orientation are likely to be dependent on rewards or other controls, and may be more attuned to what others demand than to what they want for themselves. In the US, at least, a person high in the controlled orientation is likely to place extreme importance on pay, benefits, and other extrinsic aspects of work.
The Impersonal Orientation assesses the extent to which a person believes that attaining desired outcomes is beyond his or her control and that achievement is largely a matter of luck or fate. People high on this orientation are likely to be anxious and to feel very ineffective. They are likely to want things to be as they always were, because these people have no sense of being able to affect outcomes or cope with demands or changes.
The GCOS (Deci & Ryan, 1985a) is available in two forms (12 and 17 vignettes) both of which are included in this packet below.
The original scale that is well validated and have been widely used consists of 12 vignettes and 36 items. Each vignette describes a typical social or achievement oriented situation (e.g., applying for a job or interacting with a friend) and is followed by three types of responses–an autonomous, a controlled, and an impersonal type. Respondents indicate, on 7-point Likert-type scales, the extent to which each response is typical for them. Higher scores indicate higher amounts of the particular orientation represented by the response. Thus, the scale has three subscales–the autonomy, the controlled, and the impersonal subscales–and subscale scores are generated by summing the individual’s 12 responses on items corresponding to each subscale.A description of the 12-vignette version of the scale construction appears in Deci and Ryan (1985) along with data that support the instrument’s reliability and validity. For example, the scale has been shown to be reliable, with Cronbach alphas of about 0.75 and a test- retest coefficient of 0.74 over two months, and to correlate as expected with a variety of theoretically related constructs.
There is also a 17-vignette version (with 51 items) of the scale. It has the original 12 vignettes and the original 36 items. However, 5 vignettes and 15 items (5 autonomy, 5 controlled, and 5 impersonal) have
been added. The new vignettes and items are all about social-interactions because the original vignettes were heavily oriented toward achievement situations. The new vignettes with their items are scattered throughout, so the order of items is not the same in the two versions of the GCOS. The 17-vignette version has been used successfully in various studies (e.g., Hodgins, Koestner, & Duncan, 1996).
The Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction Scales is a set of original questionnaires that assess the degree to which people feel satisfaction of these three needs. There is a: general form, as well as domain specific forms for work and relationships.
Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction Scale – In General
This scale addresses need satisfaction in general in one’s life. It has 21 items assessing the three needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Please use the following references when using this scale: (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Gagné, 2003).
Within Basic Psychological Need Theory, the satisfaction of the psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are said to represent essential nutrients of growth (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2017). To the extent experience a sense of volition and psychological freedom (i.e., autonomy), a sense of effectiveness and mastery (i.e., competence) and a sense of intimacy and connection with important others (i.e., relatedness), their psychological well-being and health should be enhanced.
Over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that the absence of psychological need satisfaction does not by definition imply its frustration (Bartholomew, Ntoumanis, Ryan, Thogersen-Ntoumani, 2011; Ryan & Deci, 2017; Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013). Psychological need frustration involves more than the mere deprivation of one’s needs. For instance, although an employee may not feel a strong bond with his coworkers on a particular day, this does not necessarily imply he feels isolated and excluded, being indicative of relatedness frustration. Similarly, although a child may at school not feel particularly interested and volitionally engaged in a learning task, it does not imply the child is acting against its own will, with the latter being indicative of autonomy need frustration. Finally, an athlete may struggle with effectively carrying out a new technique and experience little competence, but that does not mean the athlete would by definition feel like a failure. Note though that the presence of need frustration does imply low need satisfaction (Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013). That is, when individuals feel isolated, pressured and conflict and as a failure, their psychological needs will not be satisfied. Given this asymmetrical relation between need satiafction and need frustration (Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013), a moderate negative relationship between both can be theoretically expected.
To capture both the satisfaction and the frustration component, a new scale, that is, the Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale (BPNSFS; Chen, Vansteenkiste, et al., 2015), was developed, which includes a balanced combination of satisfaction and frustration items. Various studies (see below) have provided evidence for the distinction between need satisfaction and need frustration. Further, congruent with theorizing, psychological need satisfaction was found to play a critical role in individuals’ growth and well-being, whereas need frustration was especially predictive of individuals’ problem behavior and psychopathology (Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013).
The Self-Regulation Questionnaires assess domain-specific individual differences in the types of motivation or regulation. That is, the questions concern the regulation of a particular behavior (e.g., exercising regularly) or class of behaviors (e.g., engaging in religious behaviors). The regulatory styles, while considered individual differences, are not “trait” concepts, for they are not general nor are they particularly stable. But neither are they “state” concepts, for they are more stable than typical states which fluctuate easily as a function of time and place. The format for these questionnaires was introduced by Ryan and Connell (1989). Each questionnaire asks why the respondent does a behavior (or class of behaviors) and then provides several possible reasons that have been preselected to represent the different styles of regulation or motivation. The first two questionnaires were developed for late-elementary and middle school children, and concern school work (SRQ-Academic) and prosocial behavior (SRQ-Prosocial). Their validation is described in the Ryan and Connell (1989) article. Since then, several others have been developed that are intended for adults. Those two, and five other SRQs are displayed in this section of the web site.
- Academic Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ-A)
- Prosocial Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ-P)
- Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire (TSRQ)
- Learning Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ-L)
- Exercise Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ-E)
- Religion Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ-R)
- Friendship Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ-F)
The ACTA questionnaire concerns why people adopt use of a technology (ie. download an app, register with a website, purchase a wearable device, etc.) and the extent to which they perceive they will be competent to use it. The ACTA is based on the Self-Regulation Questionnaire scales devised for other domains (ie. exercise, learning and healthcare) and the Perceived Competence Scales, both found on the self-determination theory web site.
The wording of the ACTA can be adapted to identify the specific technology in question. For example the text “decided to use” can be replaced with “downloaded”, “purchased”, or “registered for” as appropriate. Likewise, the term “technology” can be replaced with “app”, “website”, or the technology name, etc.