The effects of motivation on narrative content and structure

John C. Georgesen, Cecilia H. Solano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study examined the effects of motivation on the content and structure of narratives. Forty triads of participants engaged in a 15-minute teamwork task. Following this task, participants were given either positive or negative feedback on their performance. Participants were then separated and told to write a narrative concerning their experiences. Participants were given instructions designed to induce either a self-interest motivation or an accuracy motivation when creating the narratives. Results showed that participants experiencing a self-interest motive constructed narratives emphasizing the participants' positive contributions to the group task. Also, participants with a self-interest motive were more likely to emphasize self-related cognitions and actions. Narratives of accuracy-motivated participants included more details, were more focused on the consequences of actions, and had a tighter causal structure. Finally, feedback also affected both content and structure. Thus, motivation influences not just the content of a story but also how a story is constructed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-195
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1999


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