Level of challenge and task persistence: a study of children in a cognitive activity
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This study was conducted to examine Csikszentmihalyi's (1975a) Model of Flow among a sample of 4-year-old children engaged in a cognitive activity. Twenty-eight children undertook a pattern-making task with beads of different colors and shapes under three conditions. In the assigned-easy condition the children were given only the easiest patterns; in the assigned-difficult condition they were given the most difficult patterns; and in the choice condition they were free to choose the level of difficulty of the pattern.
It was hypothesized, on the basis of the Flow Model, that the intrinsic motivation to continue an activity, as measured by the number of attempts and time spent on the activity, would be highest when children were free to choose the degree of difficulty.
The results of the study supported the hypothesis. The children spent significantly more time on the activity in the choice condition, as compared to both the assigned-easy and the assigned-difficult conditions. The number of attempts were greater in the choice condition, as compared to the assigned-difficult condition. However, the number of attempts in the choice condition were not significantly greater than in the assigned-easy condition.
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