Motivation and Emotion, Vol. 29, No. 3, September 2005 ( C2005)
When Effort Is Enjoyed: Two Studies of Intrinsic
Motivation for Personally Salient Activities
Alan S. Waterman1,2
Distinctions between two philosophical conceptions of happiness, hedonism and
eudaimonism, were applied to the study of intrinsic motivation. Modiﬁed versions
of the Personally Expressive Activities Questionnaire (PEAQ) were used in two
studies to contrast activities, all of which were enjoyed, but which differed in the
level of effort involved. In Study 1, 173 college students were free to choose any
type of activity that met the selection criteria. In Study 2, the activities chosen by
95 undergraduates were limited to activities associated with a particular leisure
time or hobby activity in which the respondents engaged on a regular basis.
Consistent results across the two studies indicate that High Effort–Liked activities,
in comparison to Low Effort–Liked activities, were associated with greater interest,
ﬂow, and feelings of personal expressiveness, greater perceived competence, and
higher scores for both self-realization values and importance. These differences
are discussed for their implications for the conceptual understanding of intrinsic
KEY WORDS: intrinsic motivation; effort; ﬂow; self-determination; self-realization.
Intrinsic motivation has been deﬁned as performing behaviors out of interest,
pleasure, and enjoyment (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Vallerand & Ratelle, 2002). How-
ever, equating intrinsic motivation with engaging in activities because they are
associated with interest, pleasure, and enjoyment appears to subsume too many
activities under this construct by disregarding important distinctions concerning
the nature of enjoyment. Rock climbing, composing music, acting on stage, and
writing computer code are performed out of interest and are enjoyed by some peo-
ple. So too are dining at a ﬁne restaurant, watching television, window shopping
at a mall, and hanging out with friends. The former all require signiﬁcant effort,
1Department of Psychology, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey.
2Address all correspondence to Alan S. Waterman, Department of Psychology, The College of
New Jersey, P.O. Box 7718, Ewing, New Jersey 08628-0718; e-mail: email@example.com.
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
whether physical or mental, the latter involve considerably less effort. Yet, both
sets of activities would appear to fulﬁll the criteria for being viewed as intrinsically
motivated for those individuals who enjoy these activities and choose to do them
out of interest. Theories of happiness within both philosophy and psychology
have traditionally distinguished higher from lower pleasures and provide a basis
for using effort as a variable for making a distinction between the two types of
activities with respect to their behavioral motivation.
PHILOSOPHICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
ON THE NATURE OF HAPPINESS
Within philosophy, the terms happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment are gener-
ally used to refer to positive subjective experiences. Some philosophers have held
that pleasures differ only in intensity, not in quality. Aristippus of Cyrene, among
the ﬁrst to advance hedonism as a basis for ethics, held that all pleasures were the
same in kind, though not equivalent in intensity, and was concerned only with the
immediate pleasurable consequences of behavior (Tatarkiewicz, 1976). Similarly,
Bentham (1789/1962) did not make qualitative distinctions between pleasures,
though he did create a complex calculus for quantitative comparisons. The ethical
goal associated with hedonism is the maximization of pleasure.
The more often employed approach within philosophy, however, has been
to differentiate “higher” from “lower” pleasures. Plato distinguished “true” from
“false” pleasures, not on the basis of subjective experience, but on the basis of the
character of the person (Plato, 1937). Aristotle (1985), in rejecting the hedonic
view of happiness as pleasure or a life of gratiﬁcation, offered the proposition
that eudaimonia (happiness) is “activity expressing virtue” (p. 284), where virtue
may be variously considered to be the best thing, the best within us, or excellence
(Ackrill, 1973; McDowell, 1980). Similarly, de Spinoza (1677/1951) advanced
the position that happiness was the result of right action, speciﬁcally through the
power to realize one’s potentialities. In eudaimonistic philosophy, self-realization
is held to be the ethical goal worth pursuing, and progress toward that end was
viewed as the proximate cause for experiences of eudaimonia. Thus, the distinction
emerged within philosophy equating the lower pleasures with hedonism and the
higher pleasures with eudaimonia.
However, philosophers recognized that these two positive subjective states
were not independent. Eudaimonia was considered a sufﬁcient, but not a neces-
sary condition for the presence of hedonic enjoyment (Telfer, 1980). Thus, three
categories of activities were posited: (a) those giving rise to both hedonic enjoy-
ment and eudaimonia (i.e., higher pleasures), (b) those giving rise only to hedonic
enjoyment (i.e,, lower pleasures), and (c) those giving rise to neither hedonic en-
joyment nor eudaimonia. The category of activities giving rise to eudaimonia but
not hedonic enjoyment was considered a theoretical null.
When Effort Is Enjoyed 167
Within psychology, the differentiation of lower and higher pleasures has
appeared in the work of numerous theorists. For example, Fromm (1947) distin-
guished between pleasure derived from the relief of painful tension and pleasure
as excellence in the art of living through the expression of a productive orientation.
Consistent with philosophical understandings of higher pleasures, he saw happi-
ness not as a primary motivation for the choice of activity but as “a companion of
productive activity” (Fromm, 1947, p. 180). Along similar lines, Maslow (1968)
provided a detailed analysis of differences between d-motives (deﬁcit-motives)
and b-motives (being-motives). The satisfaction of both types of motives yield
pleasurable subjective states, but these states are seen as differing extensively in
the cognitive-affective elements experienced. More recently, Ryan and Deci (2001)
and Ryff (1989) have discussed the distinctions between hedonic enjoyment and
eudaimonia in relation to subjective and psychological well-being. Waterman and
colleagues (Waterman, 1993b; Waterman, Schwartz, & Conti, 2005) have empiri-
cally explored the differences between the two conceptions of happiness in terms
of the ways in which they are experienced and the variables that predict to their
occurrence. The variables chosen for analysis were ones previously demonstrated
to be associated with intrinsic motivation. Before reviewing that research, how-
ever, it is necessary to consider perspectives on the role of effort in the way that
activities are experienced.
PHILOSOPHICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
ON THE ROLE OF EFFORT IN HAPPINESS
Numerous lines of theoretical analysis and empirical ﬁndings converge in
linking the higher pleasures with activities that call forth a signiﬁcant investment of
effort. For Aristotle, eudaimonia was associated with striving toward an excellence
or perfection consistent with the daimon (Norton, 1976). Such excellence or
perfection is approachable only with diligence in both thought (in the recognition
of the “true self”) and action (in the implementation of those potentials that
constitute the daimon). Similarly, de Spinoza (1677/1951), at the conclusion of
the The Ethics, wrote “all things excellent are as difﬁcult as they are rare” (p. 271)
implying the need for exceptional effort before excellence might be attained.
In his discussion of happiness from a perspective of humanistic ethics, Fromm
(1947) pointed to the ﬂaw in hedonism that “made it appear as if that which is
easiest in life—to have some kind of pleasure—were at the same time that which
is most valuable. But nothing valuable is easy... Humanistic ethics may very
well postulate happiness and joy as its chief virtues, but in doing so it does not
demand the easiest but the most difﬁcult task of man, the full development of his
productiveness” (p. 194).
In discussing the lives of people most likely to be self-actualizing, Maslow
(1968) directed attention to the full development of personal potentials. He pointed
to the activities of artists, intellectuals, the profoundly religious, and people expe-
riencing great insights in psychotherapy, all effortful forms of endeavor, as venues
in which to seek evidence of self-actualization. Csikszentmihalyi (1975), in his
original research on ﬂow, interviewed rock-climbers, chess players, basketball
players, and dancers regarding their experiences when engaged in their preferred
activities. These groups were selected in part because of the effort that went into
their chosen activities. Flow came to be deﬁned in terms of the balance of the
challenges a person encounters when engaged in an activity and the skills being
brought to it. Thus, high levels of effort were built into the deﬁnition of ﬂow.
Similarly, Deci and Ryan (1985) discuss the importance of “optimal challenges”
in sustaining intrinsic motivation. In turn, Sheldon and Elliot (1998) demonstrated
that the autonomy of personal goals, an element of intrinsic motivation, served to
promote sustained effort.
INTRINSIC MOTIVATION AND THE TWO
CONCEPTIONS OF HAPPINESS
The theoretical considerations involving differences between hedonic en-
joyment and eudaimonia lead to the possibility that the construct of intrinsic
motivation should be reconceptualized. In current practice, enjoyment is central
to the operational deﬁnition of intrinsically motivated activities. Enjoyment is a
sufﬁcient condition for activities to be performed “for their own sake,” rather than
for any extrinsic considerations that may be contingent on their performance. This
is the case whether task continuation or activity ratings for enjoyment are used to
assess such motivation. However, neither approach allows for making a distinction
between hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia.
Starting with the distinctions between hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia,
Waterman et al. (2005) proposed that the construct of intrinsic motivation is spe-
ciﬁc to the category of activities giving rise to both positive subjective states,
whereas activities in the category giving rise to hedonic enjoyment alone should
be termed “hedonically motivated.” The utility of this approach is predicated on
the ability to empirically identify differences between the two conceptions of
happiness with respect to variables demonstrated to be associated with intrin-
sic motivation, and speciﬁcally with variables linked to self-realization, since
progress toward self-realization is presumed to be responsible for experiences of
eudaimonia (Kraut, 1979; Norton, 1976).
Theories of intrinsic motivation, including cognitive-evaluation/self- de-
termination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2002), the teleonomic theory of the
self/ﬂow theory (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990), and eudaimonistic identity the-
ory (Waterman, 1992, 1993a) have led to the identiﬁcation of a set of subjective
experience variables associated with enacting intrinsically motivated activities
and a set of predictor variables reliably associated with the subjective experience
When Effort Is Enjoyed 169
variables. Waterman et al. (2005) used these variables to determine whether differ-
ences between hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia could be reliably demonstrated.
The Subjective Experiences Associated with Intrinsic Motivation
Interest, ﬂow experiences, and feelings of personal expressiveness are posited
to be various forms of the subjective experience associated with intrinsic moti-
vation. Interest is an expression of “feeling like doing” an activity (Sansone &
Harackiewicz, 1996). It is a disposition to involve oneself selectivity in some activ-
ities rather than others (Krapp, Hidi, & Renninger, 1992). Interest is a subjective
experience that can range in intensity from relatively mild engagement to pas-
sionate involvement. Flow experiences, as described by Csikszentmihalyi (1990),
refer to the combination of such cognitive-affective elements as (a) the presence
of clear goals; (b) an awareness of clear, immediate, and unambiguous feedback
about the outcomes of the actions taken; (c) a merging of action and awareness;
(d) the centering of attention on a limited stimulus ﬁeld with the exclusion of
distractions from consciousness; (e) a feeling of being in control of one’s actions
and of the immediate environment; (f) the absence of a concern about failure; (g)
the loss of ego or self-consciousness; and (h) a distortion in the sense of time. The
term feelings of personal expressiveness was used by Waterman (1990) to refer
to the subjective experiences associated with engaging in intrinsically motivated,
identity-related activities. Feelings of personal expressiveness appear to embody
one’s core sense of being. When engaged in personally expressive activities, in-
dividuals experience (a) an unusually intense involvement, (b) a special ﬁt or
meshing with the activities, (c) a feeling of intensely being alive, (d) a feeling of
completeness or fulﬁllment, (e) an impression that this what the person was meant
to do, and (f) a feeling that this is who one really is.
While the operational deﬁnitions of interest, ﬂow, and personal expres-
siveness are distinct, they have been demonstrated to be strongly interrelated
(Waterman et al., 2003). There is, however, an asymmetry with respect to their
association. Virtually all activities rated high on ﬂow or personal expressiveness
were also rated high on interest. In contrast, a substantial proportion of activities
rated high on interest were not characterized by either ﬂow or personal expres-
siveness (Waterman et al., 2003). This indicates that interest is, on average, a
milder form of pleasurable experience associated with intrinsic motivation and is
encountered in a broader range of activities.
Given the close association of the construct of personal expressiveness with
self-realization, Waterman and colleagues (Waterman, 1993b; Waterman et al.,
2005) employed the scale used to assess feelings of personal expressiveness as
the operational deﬁnition of eudaimonia. Interest and ﬂow experiences remained
available as variables that could potentially have differentially strong relationships
with hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia.
The Predictors of Intrinsic Motivation
Deci and Ryan (1985) identiﬁed self-determination and perceived compe-
tence as two predictor variables for intrinsic motivation. An activity is more likely
to be experienced as intrinsically motivating if it is perceived to be self-chosen by
the individual than if performance of the same activity is assigned (Dwyer, 1993;
Felixbrod & O’Leary, 1973; LaMore & Nelson, 1993; Pryor, 1999; Zuckerman,
Porac, Lathin, Smith, & Deci, 1978). Similarly, intrinsic motivation is more likely
to be present during activities one believes oneself capable of doing well than
during activities one perceives oneself as doing poorly (Boggiano, Main, & Katz,
1988; Curry, Biddle, Famose, & Goudas, 1996; Elliot et al., 2000; Reeve & Deci,
1996; Vallerand & Reid, 1984).
Csikszentmihalyi (1988) reﬁned the concept of perceived competence by
explicating the role played by “challenges” in the behaviors being performed.
He advanced the view that intrinsic motivation, in the form of ﬂow, was charac-
teristically present only on those occasions on which a high level of skills was
brought to activities involving a high level of challenges. Activities for which
the level of skill is high, but the level of challenges is low, give rise to experi-
ences of boredom, this despite the competence the person has demonstrated on the
Waterman (1990) identiﬁed the role played by self-realization values as a third
predictor variable for intrinsic motivation. Such values are viewed as operating in
those activities that serve to promote the development of one’s best potentials and
the furthering of one’s purposes in living. In a series of studies, self-realization
values, as well as measures of self-determination and the balance of challenges
and skills were found to be signiﬁcantly related to measures of the subjective
experiences of intrinsic motivation (Waterman et al., 2003). In addition, self-
actualization has been demonstrated to be associated with intrinsic (as opposed
to extrinsic) aspirations (Carver & Baird, 1998; Kasser & Ryan, 1993, 1996)
and intrinsic job satisfaction (Lee & Graham, 1986; Lee, McCabe, & Graham,
There are, however, theoretical grounds for expecting these three predictor
variables to be differentially related to intrinsic and hedonic motivation. Whereas
both the balance of challenges and skills and self-realization values appear con-
ceptually linked to self-realization, self-determination is not. The balance of chal-
lenges and skills is associated with self-realization, since progress toward self-
realization can only occur as individuals strive to develop their potentials through
taking on, and mastering, opportunities of increasing difﬁculty (and thereby ex-
periencing eudaimonia). This linkage is not perfect, however, since a person may
successfully engage in some demanding activities about which they care little be-
cause personally salient goals are not involved. Eudaimonia would not be expected
in such instances. Self-realization values have the most direct relevance here, since
When Effort Is Enjoyed 171
they reﬂect the deliberate selection of activities because they provide opportuni-
ties to develop one’s potentials and advance one’s purposes in living. In contrast,
self-determination does not bear any strong association with self-realization in that
a person may make an autonomous choice to engage in an activity simply because
it is fun, irrespective of whether that activity involves the development of personal
potentials or furthering one’s purposes in living. Consistent with this perspective,
Waterman et al. (2003) found that indices of the balance of challenges and skills
and self-realization values were signiﬁcantly correlated, but neither measure was
correlated with an index of self-determination. Waterman et al. (2005) predicted
that the balance of challenges and skills and self-realization values would have
stronger associations with eudaimonia than with hedonic enjoyment, whereas
self-determination would have a stronger association with hedonic enjoyment.
Additional Variables with Implications for Contrasting
the Two Conceptions of Happiness
Waterman and colleagues (Waterman, 1993b; Waterman et al., 2005) also
considered three other variables when seeking to differentiate hedonic enjoyment
and eudaimonia: the frequency of the activities, their self-ascribed importance,
and the level of effort invested in them. Differential associations with the two
conceptions of happiness were expected for importance and effort.
While opportunities for self-realization may constitute a reason for wishing
to engage in an activity frequently, so too do opportunities to experience hedonic
enjoyment alone. In addition there are a host of practical considerations that will
affect the frequency of activities and that could therefore obscure the impact of
this variable. For these reasons, no expectation was advanced that this variable
would differentiate between the two conceptions of happiness.
In contrast, the self-ascribed importance of an activity was seen as linked to
self-realization in that greater value would be attached to those activities that afford
opportunities for the advancement of personal potentials and personal goals, than
to those activities that did not. Similarly, it was anticipated that activities linked to
self-realization would require a greater expenditure of effort than would most other
activities. It is certainly true that a person might be asked to expend considerable
effort on tasks unrelated to personal potentials or purposes-in-living, but under
such circumstances a likely goal would be to manage the situation so as a minimize
the total amount of effort put into it. In contrast, when self-realization is involved,
the person would likely endeavor to work as diligently as possible so as to make the
most progress attainable. Thus, both importance and level of effort were expected
to have stronger associations with eudaimonia than with hedonic enjoyment.
To return for a moment to the two groups of activities introduced at the
opening of this article, it should be readily recognized that rock climbing,
composing music, acting on stage, and writing computer code will each be chosen
by some people because they provide a means for self-realization. When such
activities are pursued on the basis of self-realization values, it should also be
anticipated that they will involve a balance of challenges and skills, be viewed
as personally important, and that a considerable level of effort will be invested
in them. When the person is having a reasonable degree of success in pursu-
ing such activities, both eudaimonia and hedonic enjoyment may be expected to
be present. In contrast, dining at a ﬁne restaurant, watching television, window
shopping at a mall, and hanging out with friends, while hedonically enjoyable,
are far less likely to be seen as involving self-realization, they are unlikely to
entail the combination of high challenges and high skills, they are less likely to
be viewed as being of the same personal importance as activities in the other
group, and it is hard to see how a great deal of effort could be invested in
Empirical Research on the Two Conceptions of Happiness
In an initial series of studies, the author (Waterman, 1993b) demonstrated
empirical distinctions between two conceptions of happiness experienced in con-
nection with activities deemed to be personally salient to the research participants.
In comparison to reports of hedonic enjoyment, feelings of personal expressiveness
were found to be more strongly associated with reports of the following cognitive-
affective elements: (a) feeling competent, (b) having a high level of concentration,
(c) knowing how well one was doing, (d) having clear goals, (e) feeling assertive,
and (f) feeling challenged. With particular relevance to the studies reported here,
personal expressiveness was more strongly associated with (g) investing a great
deal of effort.
More recently, Waterman et al. (2005) demonstrated reliable differences be-
tween the two conceptions of happiness in terms of variables speciﬁcally related to
intrinsic motivation. The variables of self-determination and interest consistently
had signiﬁcantly stronger relationships with hedonic enjoyment, whereas the vari-
ables of the balance of challenges and skills, self-realization values, self-ascribed
importance of activities, and the level of effort invested consistently had stronger
correlations with the measure of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia). No differ-
ences in the strength of the associations with eudaimonia and hedonic enjoyment
were found ﬂow experiences or frequency. Thus, those variables with links to self-
realization were the ones with the stronger association with eudaimonia. Those
variables more strongly linked to hedonic enjoyment were the ones that were not
speciﬁc to self-realization. This pattern was consistent with expectations and it
serves to support drawing a distinction between intrinsically motivated activities
(as involving both hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia) and hedonically motivated
activities (as involving only hedonic enjoyment).
When Effort Is Enjoyed 173
THE PRESENT RESEARCH
Findings from these prior studies support the view that the level of effort
expended in an activity can be used to distinguish hedonic enjoyment from eu-
daimonia. However, in those studies effort was treated as one outcome variable
among many, and it was assessed using a single item. In the current studies,
rather than treating effort as an outcome variable, it was incorporated in the cri-
teria for the selection of the activities to be evaluated. In the studies reported
here, direct comparisons were made of High Effort–Liked activities with Low
Effort–Liked activities. Based on both philosophical and psychological theory
and on prior empirical research, activities in the former category are presumed
to be intrinsically motivated such that both hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia
will be present, whereas the latter are presumably hedonically motivated such
that only hedonic enjoyment will be present. This design represents an alter-
native and more direct strategy for analyzing the role of effort in behavioral
The following hypotheses were advanced:
(1) The category of High Effort–Liked activities will be associated with
greater reported levels of feelings of personal expressiveness than is the
category of Low Effort–Liked activities. This is a direct test of the assump-
tion that eudaimonia is present for the former but not the latter and it does
so under conditions where the level of hedonic enjoyment is comparable.
(2) The category of High Effort–Liked activities will be associated with
greater levels of interest and ﬂow experiences than is the category of
Low Effort–Liked activities. Despite the fact that in prior research interest
was more associated with hedonic enjoyment than eudaimonia and that
no difference was found for ﬂow experiences, the following rationale was
used to generate this hypothesis. Since the two categories of activities were
selected to be equivalent on hedonic enjoyment, whatever residual associ-
ation interest and ﬂow experiences have with eudaimonia over and above
the association with hedonic enjoyment will contribute to the high-effort
activities being experienced more positively than the low-effort activities.
(3) The category of High Effort–Liked activities will be associated with higher
scores for the balance of challenges and skills, self-realization values, and
self-ascribed importance, in comparison to Low Effort–Liked activities.
Each of these variables has speciﬁc links to self-realization and therefore
should contribute to the eudaimonia experienced in connection with High
In addition to specifying the variables on which differences were anticipated,
the theoretical perspective advanced here provides a basis for identifying variables
for which differences were not anticipated. Speciﬁcally, no differences between
the High Effort–Liked activities and Low Effort–Liked activities were expected
for the measure of self-determination, since both types of activities should be
perceived as self-selected on the basis of hedonic enjoyment alone. Similarly, no
differences between the conditions were expected for frequency of performing
activities, since hedonic enjoyment alone should account for frequency and since
practical considerations are presumed to play a substantial role in determining
The two studies reported here involved use of modiﬁed versions of the Per-
sonally Expressive Activities Questionnaire (PEAQ) (Waterman, 1998) to collect
data on activities differing in levels of effort and affect. When completing the
PEAQ, respondents are asked to identify personally salient activities that they
engage in on a regular basis. In the ﬁrst of these studies, respondents were asked
to evaluate what they experienced while engaging in self-selected activities with
no constraints placed on the respondents regarding the types of activities they
could choose when matching the criteria regarding enjoyment and effort. In the
second study, it was stipulated that the activities to be evaluated were to be
drawn from the array of behaviors performed when the respondent was involved
with a particular hobby or leisure time pursuit that they engaged in on a regular
The versions of the PEAQ employed in these studies contained identical sets
of measures for assessing the three subjective experience variables (i.e., interest,
ﬂow, and feelings of personal expressiveness), the three predictor variables for
intrinsic motivation (i.e., self-determination, the balance of challenges and skills,
and self-realization values), and the variables of importance and frequency. In
addition, the instruments included items pertaining to both effort and affect as a
means to validate the activities selected in the various categories. Thus, the design
of the studies allowed for making within-participant contrasts of intrinsically
motivated (High Effort–Liked) activities with hedonically motivated (Low Effort–
Participants were 173 undergraduate students (129 women, 42 men) enrolled
in psychology courses at The College of New Jersey. The gender distribution
in the sample reﬂects the approximate gender distribution within those courses.
3Other ﬁndings from this pair of studies were reported in Waterman et al. (2003). Studies 1 and 2 in
this report correspond to Studies 3 and 4 in the previous publication.
When Effort Is Enjoyed 175
Approximately 90% of the student population at the school is Caucasian, about
10% other ethnic groups.
In this study, the standard version of the PEAQ was modiﬁed to have re-
spondents identify six activities to be rated, constrained by crossing two levels of
Effort (High and Low) with three levels of Affect (Liked, Neutral, and Disliked)
(PEAQ–EA).4The instructions on the PEAQ–EA read as follows:
This questionnaire is designed to assess how individuals feel about varioustypes of activities
in which they regularly engage. Currently, we are interested in learning about how both
effort and enjoyment affect the ways in which activitiesare experienced. In the spaces below
you are asked to list six activities in which you regularly engage that are characterized by
different combinations of effort and enjoyment.
Six versions of the questionnaire were created to counter-balance the sequence in
which activities were to be listed and then rated. Each combination of Effort and
Affect was represented once in each ordinal position.
A 7-point scale was used for all items with the endpoints of the scale labeled.
The endpoint labels varied as a function of the scale content.
Measures of the Subjective Experience of Intrinsic Motivation
Interest. Interest was assessed with one item pertaining to the usual level of
interest experienced when engaged in the activity. The response scale ranged from
“very low” to “very high.”
Flow Experiences. Flow was measured using an 8-item scale, the items
corresponding to elements identiﬁed by Csikszentmihalyi (1990). The items were
phrased as completions of a common stem: “When I engage in this activity .”
The item completions for this scale were the following: (a) I feel I have clear
goals, (b) I feel self-conscious (reverse-scored), (c) I feel in control, (d) I lose
track of time, (e) I feel I know how well I am doing, (f) I have a high level of
concentration, (g) I forget personal problems, and (h) I feel fully involved. These
items were embedded among a series of other sentence completions not speciﬁc
to ﬂow experiences. Each item was responded to on a scale ranging from “not at
all characteristic of me” to “very characteristic of me.” Cronbach’s alpha for this
scale was .70.5
4Only the comparisons of the High Effort–Liked activities and Low-Effort–Liked activities will be
reported here, since it is that set of comparisons that bear directly on distinctions between intrinsi-
cally motivated and hedonically motivated activities. A report of ﬁndings involving all conditions is
available from the author on request.
5The reported levels of Cronbach alphas and inter-item correlations were derived from the study
conducted by Schwartz and Waterman (2005).
Personal Expressiveness. Feelings of personal expressiveness were assessed
with six items for which respondents were asked the extent to which they agreed
or disagreed with a series of statements. The items tapping feelings of personal
expressiveness were the following: (a) “This activity gives me my greatest feeling
of really being alive”; (b) “When I engage in this activity I feel more intensely
involved than I do when engaged in most other activities”; (c) “This activity gives
me my strongest feeling that this is who I really am”; (d) “When engaged in this
activity I feel this is what I was meant to do”; (e) “I feel more complete or fulﬁlled
when engaging in this activity than I do when engaged in most other activities”;
and (f) “I feel a special ﬁt or meshing when engaged in this activity.” The scale
for these items ranged from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” Cronbach’s
alpha for this scale was .91.
Predictor Measures of Intrinsic Motivation
Self-Determination. Self-determination was assessed by two items adapted
from Graef, Csikszentmihalyi, and Giannino (1983). The ﬁrst item read “to what
extent do you usually feel that engaging in this activity is something you are
required to do or is your choice to do?” The endpoints of the scale were “required
to do” and “my choice to do.” The second read “When engaging in this activity,
to what extent do you wish you were doing something else?”, with the endpoints
of the scale labeled “not at all” and “very much” (reverse scored). The inter-item
correlation was .39 (after reversal).
Balance of Challenges and Skills. Perceived competence, in the form of the
balance of challenges and skills, was measured by the sum of two items. The ﬁrst
referred to the usual level of challenges encountered when engaged in the activity,
the second to the level of skills the respondent usually brings to the activity. For
both items, the scale endpoints were “very low” and “very high.” High scores
on this measure can only be obtained when the level of challenges and skills are
both balanced and high, corresponding to the condition Csikszentmihalyi (1988)
termed “ﬂow.” Low scores are obtained when the levels of both elements are low,
corresponding to the condition associated with apathy. Intermediate scores are
obtained when both variables are intermediate or when one is high and the other
low, corresponding to either the conditions for boredom or anxiety. The inter-item
correlation was .34.
Self-Realization Values. Self-realization values were assessed by two items,
embedded within a series of items with the stem: “To what extent does this activity
provide you with each of the following types of opportunities?” The relevant
completions were “the opportunity for me to develop my best potentials” and “the
opportunity for me to make progress toward my goals.” Each item was associated
with a scale with the endpoints identiﬁed as “not at all” and “very extensively.”
The inter-item correlation was .67.
When Effort Is Enjoyed 177
Measures of Frequency and Importance
The frequency of each activity was assessed by one item reading: “How often
have you engaged in this activity in the past year?” The endpoints of the scale
were identiﬁed as “very frequently” and “very seldom.”
The self-ascribed importance of each activity was assessed by one item
reading: “Overall, how important is this activity to you in your life?” The endpoints
of the scale were identiﬁed as “extremely important” and “not at all important.”
Validity Check Items
Effort. To compare activities on the basis of effort, the following item was
employed: “What is the usual level of effort you invest when you engage in this
activity?” The scale ranged from “very high” to “very low.”
Affect. To compare activities on the basis of the enjoyment experienced, the
following item was used: “To what extent do you usually like or dislike engaging
in this activity?” The scale endpoints were labeled “like to do very much” and
“dislike to do very much.”
Research materials were distributed to participants in psychology classes with
instructions to complete the questionnaires under conditions of relative privacy
where they lived. The materials were to be returned to their course instructor
the following week. Respondents received points toward their course grade as a
reward for participation.
Data Analysis Strategy
All hypotheses were evaluated by contrasting High Effort–Liked activities
with Low Effort–Liked activities using paired measures t-tests.
Validation of the Selection of Activities. Consistent with the requested selec-
tion of activities in terms of high and low effort, for the item pertaining to level of
effort High Effort–Liked activities were rated signiﬁcantly higher on this item than
were Low Effort–Liked activities, t(172) =20.29, p<.0001. With respect to the
validation of the selection of liked activities, for the item pertaining to affect, the
Tab l e I . The Content of Activities Evaluated in the Intrinsically and He-
donically Motivated Activity Groups (Minimum of 5% Representation):
Low Effort–Liked (hedonically High Effort–Liked (intrinsically
motivated) activities motivated) activities
TV viewing Athletic activities
Social activities Dance activities
Reading Work activities
ratings for the High Effort–Liked activities and Low Effort–Liked activities were
not statistically different, t(172) =−1.21, ns .
The Content of Activities in the Various Motivation Categories. In Study 1,
the respondents were free to choose any type of activity within the categories of
High Effort–Liked and Low Effort–Liked activities. The activities generated by
the respondents were analyzed for content and a frequency distribution of those
activities reported in each group by at least 5% of the sample are listed in Table I.
Very little overlap in content between the two sets of activities was observed.
Comparisons Involving the Subjective Experience Measures
Mean scores and standard deviations for the 8 dependent variables for the
High Effort–Liked and Low Effort–Liked activities are reported in Table II.
Consistent with Hypotheses 1 and 2, as expected, High Effort–Liked activities
received higher scores on all three measures relating to the subjective experience of
intrinsic motivation than did Low Effort–Liked activities: Interest, t(172) =4.00,
Table II. Means Scores and Standard Deviations on the Subjective Experience, Predictor,
Importance, and Frequency Variables for Low Effort–Liked and High Effort–Liked Activities:
Variables Low Effort–Liked High Effort–Liked t-value
Interest 5.98 (1.27) 6.40 (.75) 4.00∗∗
Flow experiences 39.46 (8.68) 44.09 (6.42) 5.84∗∗
Personal expressiveness 23.70 (10.29) 31.34 (6.78) 8.05∗∗
Self-determination 11.91 (2.39) 11.89 (2.08) −.15
Balance of challenges and skills 6.41 (3.55) 10.08 (2.21) 14.76∗∗
Self-realization values 7.12 (3.77) 10.40 (2.86) 9.62∗∗
Frequency 6.37 (1.01) 5.59 (1.44) −5.73∗∗
Importance 5.09 (1.71) 5.44 (1.33) 2.14∗
∗p<.05. ∗∗ p<.001.
When Effort Is Enjoyed 179
p<.0001; ﬂow experiences, t(167) =5.84, p<.0001; personal expressiveness,
t(167) =8.05, p<.0001.
Comparisons Involving the Predictor Variables
Consistent with Hypothesis 3, the expected differences for the balance of
challenges and skills and self-realization values were obtained, with High Effort–
Liked activities rated higher on these scales than Low-Effort–Liked activities:
Balance of challenges and skills, t(172) =14.77, p<.0001; Self-Realization
Values, t(172) =9.63, p<.0001. Also as anticipated, no difference between
High Effort–Liked activities and Low Effort–Liked activities was found for the
measure of self-determination, t(171) =−.15, ns .
Comparisons Involving Frequency and Importance
Consistent with Hypothesis 3, with respect to the importance attributed to
the activities evaluated, High Effort–Liked activities were rated as signiﬁcantly
more important than Low Effort–Liked activities, t(172) =2.15, p<.05. Al-
though no prediction was advanced with respect to the frequency of various
activities, Low Effort–Liked activities were reported to be engaged in signiﬁ-
cantly more frequently than were High Effort–Liked activities, t(172) =−5.73,
The ﬁndings for Study 1 provided support for the hypothesized differ-
ences between intrinsically motivated and hedonically motivated activities. High
Effort–Liked activities were found to be associated with higher levels of reported
interest, ﬂow experiences, personal expressiveness, perceived competence in the
form of the balance of challenges and skills, self-realization values, and the rated
importance of activities. For frequency, no difference was predicted, but a signiﬁ-
cant outcome was obtained with Low Effort–Liked activities found to be engaged
in more frequently than High Effort–Liked activities. This indicates that activities
giving rise solely to hedonic enjoyment were performed more frequently than
those giving rise to both hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia. No difference was
predicted for self-determination and none was obtained.
The participants in Study 1 were able to choose the activities without con-
straints on the nature of the activities themselves. Thus, the content of the activities
constituted an uncontrolled variable. A second study was conducted in an effort
to replicate the ﬁndings obtained here under conditions where all the activities
evaluated would be drawn from the same content domain. By keeping the content
domain constant, a greater degree of comparability across the activities evaluated
could be attained for aspects of the activities that were uncontrolled in Study 1,
for example, the relative frequency of the activities and the time interval since
the activity was last enacted. The particular domain selected for study was leisure
time and hobby activities.
Participants were 95 undergraduate students (81 women, 14 men) enrolled in
psychology courses at The College of New Jersey.
For Study 2, the standard version of the PEAQ was modiﬁed so that respon-
dents ﬁrst identiﬁed a domain of leisure time or hobby activity (PEAQ-LH). The
activity to be selected was to have the following characteristics: (a) there was a
strong interest in doing it, (b) it was considered to be an important part of one’s
life, (c) it was engaged in with some regularity or frequency, and (d) it was not a
paid activity or one engaged in for course credit. Next, respondents were asked
to break the leisure time or hobby activity into its component elements, that is,
speciﬁc activities that were a part of the larger activity. Examples were provided as
to how two leisure or hobby activities (playing a musical instrument and playing
on a football team) could be broken down into component activities. Respondents
were asked to list a minimum of 10 component activities. Finally, respondents
were asked to choose four of the component activities listed that were character-
ized by different combinations of Effort (High and Low) and Affect (Liked and
Disliked). The sequence in which activities were rated was varied among four
versions of the instrument, with each category of activity appearing once in each
All scales on the PEAQ-LH were the same as those on the PEAQ-EA.
The procedures in Study 2 were the same as those in Study 1.
When Effort Is Enjoyed 181
Validation of the Selection of Activities. Consistent with the requested se-
lection of activities in terms of high and low effort, for the item pertaining to
the level of effort High Effort–Liked activities were rated signiﬁcantly higher
than were Low Effort–Liked activities, t(96) =11.48, p<.0001. With respect
to the comparison of activities with respect to affect, the difference between the
High Effort–Liked activities and Low Effort–Liked activities was not signiﬁcant,
t(95) =1.65, ns.
Comparisons Involving the Subjective Experience Measures
Mean scores and standard deviations for the 8 dependent variables for the
High Effort–Liked activities and Low Effort–Liked activities are reported in
Again, as predicted in Hypotheses 1 and 2, for all three measures of the sub-
jective experiences of intrinsic motivation, High Effort–Liked activities were rated
signiﬁcantly higher than Low Effort–Liked activities: interest, t(94) =3.43, p<
.001; ﬂow experiences, t(94) =3.13, p<.01; personal expressiveness, t(96) =
Comparisons Involving the Predictor Variables
Again, consistent with Hypothesis 3, both the variables of the balance of
challenges and skills and self-realization values yielded signiﬁcant effects with
High Effort–Liked activities rated more highly than Low Effort–Liked activities:
Table III. Means Scores and Standard Deviations on the Subjective Experience, Predictor,
Importance and Frequency Variables for Low Effort–Liked and High Effort–Liked Activities:
Variables Low Effort–Liked High Effort–Liked t-value
Interest 5.78 (1.51) 6.30 (.96) 3.44∗∗
Flow experiences 41.65 (8.26) 44.25 (7.44) 3.13∗
Personal expressiveness 23.95 (9.76) 28.10 (8.34) 4.22∗∗
Self-determination 11.26 (2.64) 11.69 (2.50) 1.51
Balance of challenges and skills 7.91 (3.03) 11.00 (2.08) 9.27∗∗
Self-realization values 9.22 (3.09) 10.41 (2.88) 4.17∗∗
Frequency 5.65 (1.52) 5.61 (1.39) −0.12
Importance 4.63 (1.74) 5.18 (1.32) 2.93∗
∗p<.01. ∗∗ p<.001.
balance of challenges and skills, t(96) =9.27, p<.0001; self-realization values,
t(96) =4.17, p<.0001. No prediction was advanced with respect to the self-
determination as a predictor of intrinsic motivation, and the comparison of High
Effort–Liked activities with Low Effort–Liked activities was not signiﬁcant.
Comparisons Involving Frequency and Importance
Consistent with Hypothesis 3, High Effort–Liked activities were rated signif-
icantly more important than Low Effort–Liked activities, t(96) =2.91, p<.01.
However, in contrast to the ﬁndings of Study 1, no differences were observed with
respect to the frequency of High Effort–Liked activities and Low Effort–Liked
activities, t(96) =.12, ns.
With only one exception, the ﬁndings for Study 2 paralleled those for Study
1. Support was again obtained for all three hypotheses. High Effort–Liked activi-
ties were rated signiﬁcantly higher on interest, ﬂow, personal expressiveness, the
balance of challenges and skills, self-realization values, and importance. Again, no
difference was observed with respect to self-determination. Unlike Study 1 where
Low Effort–Liked activities were reported to be engaged in more frequently, in
Study 2 no difference was observed for this variable. Since in Study 2, all activ-
ities were drawn from the same domain, it is plausible that the activities in both
categories were integral to the performance of the leisure time or hobby activity
on any given occasion thus accounting for the absence of a difference with respect
This research was undertaken on the premise that level of effort would play
a differential role in the motivation for activities that were enjoyed. The ﬁndings
from this pair of studies support that supposition. When evaluating activities
comparable with respect to enjoyment, those associated with higher levels of
effort were reported to be more strongly associated with all forms of the subjective
experiences of intrinsic motivation than those requiring less effort. Further, High
Effort–Liked activities, in comparison to Low Effort–Liked activities were found to
be consistently associated with increased perceptions of the balance of challenges
and skills involved, the relevance of self-realization values, and the self-ascribed
importance of the activities.
The null ﬁndings associated with self-determination also deserve attention.
The various theories concerning intrinsic motivation have traditionally attached
When Effort Is Enjoyed 183
considerable importance to the matter of choice (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Graef et al.,
1983; Ryan, 1993; Waterman, 1990). Self-determination has been demonstrated
to be strongly correlated with various measures of the subjective experience of
intrinsic motivation (i.e., interest, ﬂow experiences, personal expressiveness) in
previous studies (Schwartz & Waterman, 2005; Waterman et al., 2003). However,
in the studies reported here, it was the only variable that did not differ between
High Effort–Liked (intrinsically motivated) activities and Low Effort–Liked (he-
donically motivated) activities across the two studies. This ﬁnding is consistent
with the results in prior research showing marginal or nonsigniﬁcant relation-
ships between self-determination and such predictors of intrinsic motivation as
the balance of challenges and skills and self-realization values (Waterman et al.,
2003). It is also consistent with the ﬁnding of Waterman et al. (2005) that self-
determination was more strongly associated with hedonic enjoyment than with
The ﬁndings obtained here, not withstanding, self-determination makes a
strong contribution to the extent to which activities result in enjoyment and interest.
Similarly, it is associated with task-continuation as an operational deﬁnition of
intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985) because activities that are enjoyed are
very likely to be continued. However, self-determination does not appear useful
for distinguishing activities in terms of the higher and lower pleasures referred to
in the philosophical and psychological literatures.
It should be recognized, however, that the null research ﬁnding with respect
to self-determination obtained here does not undermine conclusions reached about
the importance of this predictor for intrinsic motivation, interpreted either with
its traditional meaning or with the narrower, reconceptualization employed here.
All of the contextual and other variables that have been previously demonstrated
to undermine intrinsic motivation through the reduction of hedonic enjoyment
(Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2002), serve to undermine it in the narrower sense since
without hedonic enjoyment, eudaimonia cannot be experienced (Waterman et al.,
2005). This is the case even when other predictors of intrinsic motivation are
present (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). Thus, self-determination is best considered as
a necessary, but not a sufﬁcient condition for intrinsic motivation, whereas it is a
sufﬁcient condition for hedonic enjoyment.
This brings attention back to the meaning to be attached to the term “intrinsic
motivation.” Based on the research reported by Waterman et al. (2005), it was
proposed that the term “intrinsic motivation” be reconceptualized to refer speciﬁ-
cally to activities for which both eudaimonia and hedonic motivation are present,
whereas the term “hedonic motivation” should be used to refer to activities for
which only hedonic enjoyment is present. The ﬁndings from the current studies
reinforce that proposal.
It is true that for a given individual both high-effort and low-effort activities
may be engaged in because of the activities are inherently enjoyable and that the
nature of enjoyment experienced for both types of activities shares a lot in common
(i.e., the elements associated with hedonic enjoyment). However, as these studies
demonstrate, meaningful distinctions can be drawn between the two classes of
activities speciﬁcally with respect to the qualities of the enjoyment experienced
and several of the predictor variables traditionally associated with intrinsic moti-
vation. Given these differences, it appears important for future theorizing about
the role of enjoyment in human motivation to include consideration of the level
of effort involved in activities. Speciﬁcally, there are now grounds for consider-
ing that the level of effort invested in activities should be included among the
predictor variables for intrinsic motivation (i.e., for activities giving rise to both
hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia), along with self-determination, the balance
of challenges and skills, and self-realization values. This could not be the case
when the construct of intrinsic motivation was considered equally applicable to
the category of activities giving rise to hedonic enjoyment alone.
It should also be recognized that the association of effort with intrinsic
motivation is speciﬁc to High Effort–Liked activities, for which it can be presumed
that both eudaimonia and hedonic enjoyment are present. There are plenty of high-
effort activities that a person would not enjoy and that would therefore be placed
in the category of activities for which neither eudaimonia nor hedonic enjoyment
The results of the current studies and other research using the PEAQ have
implications for the methodologies to be used in future studies of intrinsic motiva-
tion. A considerable body of literature on intrinsic motivation has emerged from
laboratory studies in which task choice and difﬁculty have been experimentally
manipulated along with a variety of other contextual variables. Typically, intrinsic
motivation has been treated a dependent variable operationally deﬁned in terms of
rated levels of enjoyment and interest, or behaviorally in terms of task continua-
tion beyond that required by the research conditions. However, neither approach
affords an opportunity to determine the relative levels of hedonic enjoyment and
eudaimonia generated. On the basis of the studies reported here and the ﬁndings
from Waterman et al. (2005), it is recommended that assessments of intrinsic
motivation incorporate measures of both forms of happiness.
Traditional approaches to the study of intrinsic motivation have been very
productive in elucidating the roles of self-determination and competence in the
motivation for behaviors. However, there is considerably more difﬁculty in ex-
perimentally manipulating the balance of challenges and skills and effort under
laboratory conditions. While comparing simple with complex tasks does indirectly
involve differences in both the balance of challenges and skills and effort, it does
so in relatively uncontrolled ways. For one person a complex task may indeed
match a high level of challenge with a high level of skill being brought to it, while
for another person the same task may either represent too little challenge or too
great a challenge. The same task may elicit a very high level of effort when there
When Effort Is Enjoyed 185
is a balance of challenges and skills, but relatively less effort when the level of
challenge is too low or too high.
Further, laboratory conditions are not well suited to evaluating the role played
by self-realization values in intrinsic motivation. The standard tasks employed in
laboratory research are likely to have only limited relevance to what individu-
als consider to be their best potentials or purposes in living. Since the activities
deemed relevant to self-realization vary widely from person to person, research on
this variable is better suited to what Emmons (1999) has referred to as idiographic-
nomothetic methods. Such methods allow each individual to designate the par-
ticular behaviors indicative of a particular category, while entailing quantitative
comparisons between categories across research participants. In the present study,
this was done using effort as a categorical variable with respondents identifying the
particular activities that fulﬁlled the criteria for inclusion in the High Effort–Liked
and Low Effort–Liked categories. The salience of the activities for the respondents
could thus be maximized in ways not generally feasible in laboratory research.
The ﬁndings that both self-realization values and effort play a signiﬁcant role
in intrinsic motivation, along with self-determination and perceived competence,
have implications for educational practices designed to promote student involve-
ment in their studies. It is worth noting that in Study 1, educational activities were
not included in the list of activities that were experienced as Liked. Apparently,
for most students, what they are doing in obtaining their education is not expe-
rienced as intrinsically motivating. Systematic efforts to apply concepts from the
intrinsic motivation literature may mitigate this circumstance, at least to some
extent. A degree of self-determination can be generated in the classroom through
introducing choice as an element in course projects and through the opportunity to
personally select courses at the secondary and college levels. Through individu-
alizing class assignments, particularly with respect to creating optimal challenges
for students in light of their current level of skills, and in conjunction with empha-
sizing the relevance of schoolwork for personal interests and goals, teachers have
the opportunity to increase the extent to which students become engaged with
their coursework (Assor, Kaplan, & Roth, 2002). As with the difﬁculty in study-
ing self-realization values under laboratory conditions, there may be considerable
difﬁculty in maximizing this variable in educational settings. In order to increase
the extent to which such values are attached to a student’s studies, it would be
necessary for teachers to know the particular talents and goals of each student
and to determine the manner in which course contents could contribute to the ad-
vancement of such individual talents and goals. The problem here is compounded
for students who have yet to gain insight into the particular nature of their talents
and/or have yet to formulate purposes in life. Nevertheless, generic efforts to tie
course contents to potential talents and life goals may serve to facilitate intrinsic
motivation in those students who do have some conception of their potentials and
The results of attempts to increase the effort students expend in educational
undertakings through increasing the demands placed on them may yield increased
motivation for some. For others the result will be decreased motivation regarding
their studies. The results of the research reported here suggest that higher levels of
effort are associated with enjoyment when an activity is already associated with the
markers for intrinsic motivation. To increase the effort that needs to be expended
on educational tasks in the absence of the markers for intrinsic motivation may
increase extrinsic motivation, but not an investment in the activities themselves.
Effort under such circumstances is likely to be perceived as a negative condition,
one to be minimized. The consequences for educational motivation would thus
be counter-productive. The development of pedagogies more fully based on our
knowledge of intrinsic motivation remains an important, albeit elusive, goal.
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