Cognitive evaluation theory, proposed by Edward Deci, suggests that the presence of external rewards or controlling factors can have different effects on intrinsic motivation. According to the theory, when individuals perceive external rewards or controlling factors as undermining their sense of autonomy or competence, intrinsic motivation decreases. Conversely, when external factors are perceived as supportive of autonomy and competence, intrinsic motivation increases. This theory emphasizes the importance of intrinsic motivation for optimal engagement and performance in tasks.
Applying cognitive evaluation theory to online communities involves considering the impact of rewards and controlling factors on members' intrinsic motivation to participate and contribute. Online communities can utilize various strategies to foster intrinsic motivation, such as providing members with a sense of autonomy, choice, and competence in their interactions and contributions. Encouraging self-expression, recognizing individual achievements, and creating opportunities for meaningful engagement can enhance intrinsic motivation within the online community. Conversely, excessive control, external pressures, or overly emphasized rewards may diminish members' intrinsic motivation and negatively impact their participation and commitment. By aligning the design and management of online communities with the principles of cognitive evaluation theory, community administrators can cultivate an environment that supports and enhances members' intrinsic motivation, leading to more active and fulfilling community participation.