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Perceptions of Interest: A Lens Model Analysis

James Athanasou
Sydney, Australia

This study tested recent German theories of the nature of human interest, in which it is hypothesized that individual interest is composed of cognitive, emotional and value components. Using an idiographic design based on representative sampling of a classroom ecology, 10 judges rated 108 student profiles for the level of actualized interest. The profiles were obtained from 27 random experience samples using 17 cues: level of skill, knowledge, success, familiarity, confidence, concentration, understanding, satisfaction, happiness, excitement, effort, enthusiasm, enjoyment, desire, determination, importance, and extent of freedom. The 27 profiles were presented in four blocks and judges were reasonably reliable in their 27 judgments with a median inter-trial correlation of 0.83 and a coefficient alpha for the 17 ratings of 0.95. A lens model analysis was used to decompose judgments across repeated situations in order to determine the key components of actualized interest. Lens model parameters, such as R-squared, ranged from 0.94 to 0.55, and cognitive consistency ranged from 0.96 to 0.74. Based on the relative beta weights, the most important indicators of interest were ratings of effort, happiness, desire, familiarity, enthusiasm, importance and enjoyment. Results supported the emotionality and value components of actualized interest, but not the knowledge emphasis in German theories.

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