Part 3: A Methodological Breakup

Authenticity and Intrinsic Motiv Differences

I’ve debated whether or not I should even make a blog post about this issue, but I’ve decided that it would be more beneficial to make a post not only because it would make later posts clearer but also because it demonstrates a way to handle the hurdle I’m encountering, which is bound to come up in any major project. Also, I believe it’s important to acknowledge my struggles as well as my progress.

To put it simply, I can’t study authenticity anymore, and I have to focus on a different topic: intrinsic motivation.

I started my project thinking that I would study how people can make more authentic sacrifices in their relationships, or, in other words, to make a sacrifice for their partner because they truly want to. So the old construct I had was authenticity: the degree to which you are true to yourself and how that shows through your actions, thoughts, beliefs, etc. The construct I must work with now is intrinsic motivation: the degree to which you do an activity because you truly enjoy doing that activity and get pleasure out of it. While I explain these constructs separately, they are definitely related and feed off of each other. It just happened that the way I first framed my study, authenticity seemed to be the more appropriate construct to study, so I went with authenticity as my primary focus instead of intrinsic motivation.

As I furthered my research and started getting into making measures about authenticity, my adviser noticed that the authenticity literature was messier than we anticipated. It was hard to find past work on authenticity that matched up with what I wanted for my project, and the past work did not do a good job of clearly defining authenticity in general. My adviser then suggested to focus on just intrinsic motivation because its past literature was cleaner, and it would be easier for me to measure and to work with.

It was hard accepting this change of focus. I don’t want to say that my background research on authenticity was for nothing, but frankly, I can’t use the information I’ve found on authenticity anymore, and now I have to do more research on intrinsic motivation. That being said, I’m fine (and rather relieved) now with this change (or sacrifice, if you will). I think everyone has gone through letting go of something you’ve been invested in from the beginning and knowing how hard that can be. But if I didn’t decide to move on, my project would probably have even more issues and cause me more grief later. So, sorry authenticity, it was nice to have known you, but I’m afraid our relationship was not meant to be!

Anyway, once I get my intrinsic motivation research up to speed, I’ll be back to making measures, and hopefully I will get a better picture of what my procedure will be in a week or two.