Summary and Critique of Journal Article

Table of Contents


The paper focuses on students’ learning habits when faced with temptation. The authors portray temptation as anything that would interfere with a student’s concentration levels while learning. Temptation distracts students and makes them stop pursing their activities. Therefore, researchers have implied that temptation hampers the process of learning. Adolescent students have a weakness in sciences, mathematics and languages. This is because adolescents view these subjects as extremely hard. It is therefore easier for the adolescents to be distracted when working on these subjects.

However, researchers have not addressed the question of how presence of temptation affects the actual learning process (Fries and Franziska, 2007). In this light, they formulated the study to tackle this problem. The general assumption to this research is that temptation lowers the motivation for the learning activity. This assumption was manipulated to test the psychological effects of temptation on the learning process. The authors tested how temptation to engage in other activities affected learning. In achieving their goals, they assumed that temptation acts in lowering a student’s motivation (Fries and Franziska, 2007).

Focus on the Article

Whenever learning is done in the presence of temptation, the student dismisses all the positive that can be derived from the learning process and opt for the alternative. The paper assumes that the more attractive the temptation is, the higher the opportunity cost. This means that students would opt for a fun activity even if it meant a drop in their grades. Therefore, an increase in temptation usually leads to a decrease in the learning process and intrinsic motivation to perform (Fries and Franziska, 2007).

The objective of the study was to analyze the how temptation influenced the learning process. The authors also wanted to know the conditions under which attractiveness turned to temptation. To achieve these objectives, the authors manipulated the alternative’s psychological presence. A sample of 77 student; 50 girls and 50 boys was chosen to assist in completing the process (Fries and Franziska, 2007). The authors divided the sample into four groups. The baseline group performed the attractive activities that were deemed as temptation first. The remaining three experimental groups were to perform the attractive task after completing learning task (Fries and Franziska, 2007).

The experiment was set to reflect the typical situation of a student who needs to study for school while other attractive activities are available. All participants had to perform two tasks: (a) read medical articles, and (b) evaluate different video clips. The reading task was meant to reflect a homework assignment while the video task was to be associated with leisure activities that represented temptation. In the experimental conditions, students were to perform the learning task first. This experimental scenario is similar to the situation of students who are doing their homework while a TV is in the room and who are planning to watch TV after finishing their homework (Fries and Franziska, 2007). The dependent variables in this experiment were intrinsic motivation, Motivation to perform well, and experience of motivational interference.

For the experiment to check the validity of the assumptions, students had to rate the tasks’ attractiveness on parallel items (Fries and Franziska, 2007). Results showed that students viewed watching video clips as the more attractive task than reading task (Fries and Franziska, 2007). On the test of how attractive alternatives interfered with learning task, the following results were obtained: An analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that the experimental groups did not differ in respect to the task values that they attached to the learning task (Fries and Franziska, 2007). “However, there was a difference with respect to the task value attached to the video clip task.” (Fries and Franziska, 2007) The research supported the hypothesis in respect to motivation to perform well. The second objective was to determine the conditions that make the alternative to turn into temptation. The study found no statistically significant for the dependent motivational variables or for the dependent performance variables.

As expected, the results indicated that students who were learning in the presence of a temptation experienced a motivational conflict with negative consequences for their learning outcomes. The students were highly distracted when performing their duties. The opportunity costs acted as interference to the learning process. Using clues to direct the participants on the alternatives they were missing did not interfere with their motivation.

A Critique on the Study

The research was well planned. The authors clearly outlined the objectives of the study. Methods used to attain the objectives were outlined clearly. Moreover, the sample is properly defined. One can clearly identify the focus group as the adolescents. The analysis of data yielded relevant results that could be analyzed to provide the required information. In addition to this, the authors elaborated the results clearly in discussion.

However, the study is not without fault. The authors’ focus is on a single group of students; only the adolescents. This does not coincide with the topic of study that is a general topic. Therefore, in case the authors wanted to focus on the adolescents only, they should have clearly been outlined in the topic of study. Since the topic is general, the authors should have picked a sample that reflected the topic. This is because both the adolescents and the other groups of individuals are affected with temptation while studying. Therefore, the only way to portray this in the study would be by picking a sample that had diversity. The disregard of this factor in the topic of study makes the topic misleading to some extent.

A limitation to the study is the assumption that all the students are tempted with watching video clips. People have different interests and therefore the temptation that may affect one person may not affect the other person with equal intensity. The research may therefore have yielded false information. Each student reported the outcome of the research in relation to watching video clips. This cannot be used as a standard measure of temptation due to the difference in people’s attitudes and perception regarding temptation.


To improve the study the author has to do a preliminary research on the issues that each student considers a temptation. This should be used against each student to measure how the temptation actually affects his or her learning habits. If each student is provided with a condition that is actually a temptation then he or she is bound to show a certain character. Otherwise, the use of one item to reflect temptation for the whole group is wrong. Temptation ought to be something that will cause distraction if it cannot then it is not temptation. Nevertheless, this research has clearly addressed the problem of temptation in learning process. Future researcher may consider improving on the methods used to address the research questions. The researchers may also incorporate more quantitative analysis to enhance the analysis process.


Fries, S. Franziska, D. (2007). Learning in the Face of Temptation: The Case of Motivational Interference. The Journal of Experimental Education 76(1), 93-112

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