by Priyanka B.Carr, Gregory M.Walton

What psychological mechanisms facilitate social coordination and cooperation? The present research examined the hypothesis that social cues that signal an invitation to work with others can fuel intrinsic motivation even when people work alone. Holding constant other factors, participants exposed to cues of working together persisted longer on a challenging task (Experiments 1 and 3), expressed greater interest in and enjoyment of the task (Experiments 1, 3, and 5), required less self-regulatory effort to persist on the task (Experiment 2), became more engrossed in and performed better on the task (Experiment 4), and, when encouraged to link this motivation to their values and self-concept, chose to do more related tasks in an unconnected setting 1–2 weeks later (Experiment 5). The results suggest that cues of working together can inspire intrinsic motivation, turning work into play. The discussion addresses the social–relational bases of motivation and implications for the self and application.