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Exploring motivation and the social self: Independence, interdependence, and perceived obligation

Michael Brian Berg, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Students from a large state university participated by responding to a survey on helping behavior. This research explored the effect of independence and interdependence on perceptions of obligation and the likelihood of helping. Results indicated that independence was associated with intrinsic motivation, whereas interdependence was related to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Furthermore, analyses confirmed that motivation served as a mediator between these orientations and the likelihood of helping. Interdependence predicted helping via intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, whereas independence only predicted helping via intrinsic motivation. Even when helping was more costly, and therefore more likely to be driven by personal rather than social motives, interdependence remained as strong a predictor as independence of intrinsic motivation and subsequently of helping. Interaction and main effects of gender, severity of need, and closeness of the relationship also are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Personality

Recommended Citation

Berg, Michael Brian, "Exploring motivation and the social self: Independence, interdependence, and perceived obligation" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9950138.