Intrinsic Motivation, Vitality, and High Altitude Mountaineering: An Analysis of Seven Case Studies

Authors

  • Jonathan C. Norling Colorado Mountain College
  • Mark F. Roark Utah State University
  • Dale R. Wagner Utah State University
  • Alex K. Montour Lyndon State College

Abstract

College adventure leadership programs may involve training students through multi-day expeditions to remote locations to test their physical and psychological performance. In the context of a group-oriented, mountaineering course in a high altitude environment participant's performance level might be a function of motivation level, vitality level, and/or may be influenced by physiological changes occurring during the ascent. The theoretical framework selected for the study was Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET) (Deci & Ryan, 1985b), a sub-theory of Selfdetermination Theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 1985a). CET suggests that an intrinsically motivated activity, if internalized, could be a representation of a participant's inclination to be physically active and to expand his or her capacities and abilities. For mountaineers participating on an expedition, those with higher levels of intrinsic motivation might somewhat influence performance, the level of challenge accepted, or willingness to push through adversity toward achievement of an internalized external goal.