On the factorial and construct validity of the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory: conceptual and operational concerns

Res Q Exerc Sport. 1997 Mar;68(1):20-32. doi: 10.1080/02701367.1997.10608863.


The Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) has been gaining acceptance in the sport and exercise domain since the publication of research by McAuley, Duncan, and Tammen (1989) and McAuley, Wraith, and Duncan (1991), which reported confirmatory support for the factorial validity of a hierarchical model of intrinsic motivation. Authors of the present study argue that the results of these studies did not conclusively support the hierarchical model and that the model did not accurately reflect the tenets of cognitive evaluation theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) from which the IMI is drawn. It is also argued that a measure of perceived locus of causality is required to model intrinsic motivation properly. The development of a perceived locus of causality for exercise scale is described, and alternative models, in which perceived competence and perceived locus of causality are held to have causal influences on intrinsic motivation, are compared with an oblique confirmatory factor analytic model in which the constructs are held at the same conceptual level. Structural equation modeling showed support for a causal model in which perceived locus of causality mediates the effects of perceived competence on pressure-tension, interest-enjoyment, and effort-importance. It is argued that conceptual and operational problems with the IMI, as currently used, should be addressed before it becomes established as the instrument of choice for assessing levels of intrinsic motivation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation*