The effects of emotional and nonemotional content on children's (ages: 10--12) cognitive motivation and involvement in Web content

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental|Mass Communications




The purpose of this research is to examine, within an expectancy-value framework, how the use of emotional and nonemotional Web content influences children's (ages: 10–12) cognitive motivation and involvement in Web-based content. Expectancy-value theory states that people orient themselves to the world and to performing tasks based on their expectancies for certain outcomes. Expectancy-value ultimately influences whether or not motivational activation takes place. The expectancy-value system consists of two dimensions, Belief System and Subjective-Task Value. The Belief System addresses whether an individual believes that s/he can perform a task, and Subjective-Task Value is the importance ascribed to the task. ^ In this study, I believe that content will predict children's intensity of involvement in cognitive processing. Children's involvement is affected by both emotional and nonemotional cognition. Level of involvement may predict continued task liking of Web content. This relationship is bi-directional. That is, an increase in task liking may increase level of involvement in the task. ^ A between participants 3 x 2 factorial experimental design consisting of six different treatments was developed. Thus, two versions (emotional and nonemotional) of three stories were developed. There were 328 participants. ^ Participants were pretreatment tested for expectancy value and control variables. After the children read the randomly selected story, they answered a Web-based seven point Likert scale online questionnaire consisting of items as proposed in the hypotheses and model. These scales measured task liking and level of involvement in processing the story content. Statistical procedures included confirmatory factor analysis and reliability assessment. ^ Results found that the manipulation was effective for only one story. Thus, two studies were conducted. One study included all 328 participants and the other study only included those children participating in the effective conditions, which comprised 135 participants. In Study 1 findings indicated general support for the proposed model. Analysis focused on Study 2, which also generally supported the proposed model. This study found Task Liking was not mediated by the Expectancy Value System, but that Task Liking mediated the Expectancy Value System, and then this system predicted level of involvement. ^