Perceived Social Support and Academic Motivation: Exploring the Moderating Role of Extraversion in Post-Secondary Students

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Hunter, Hannah
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The purpose of this study was to assess the interaction of social and individual factors that influence academic motivation in Canadian post-secondary students. Specifically, the current study examined perceived social support from three sources: family, friends, and significant others, and students’ self reported levels of extraversion as predictors of the subscales of academic motivation. The subscales of academic motivation measured were intrinsic motivation (based on individual enjoyment and interest), extrinsic motivation (based on an external reward), and amotivation (the lack or absence of motivation). Canadian post-secondary students were recruited through Mount Saint Vincent’s online bonus point system, SONA, and through the primary researcher’s social media platforms. 70 students from first year of study to graduate studies participated in the current study and completed demographic items, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Big Five Personality Inventory (Extraversion items only), and the Academic Motivation Scale – College Version. Descriptive statistics, correlation analyses, and multiple regressions were used to examine the data. Analysis showed that perceived social support was significant in positively predicting intrinsic motivation and negatively predicting amotivation for students low in extraversion. The relationships between perceived social support and intrinsic motivation, and between perceived social support and amotivation were moderated by extraversion. The interaction between perceived social support and extraversion was non-significant in predicting extrinsic motivation. Results from this study suggest that social support can be effective for promoting intrinsic motivation and preventing against amotivation in post-secondary students, especially those who are less extraverted. The current findings add to the literature identifying social support as an important precursor to academic motivation that must continue to be examined and considered when developing strategies to increase motivation and prevent amotivation at the post-secondary level.