Affirming and undermining motivations for reading and associations with reading comprehension, age and gender

Roel van Steensel*, Ron Oostdam, Amos van Gelderen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: There has been an increasing interest in negative or ‘undermining’ motivations for reading. In this study, we aimed to strengthen knowledge on the validity of the distinction between affirming and undermining motivations. First, we examined whether the structure of a questionnaire based on this distinction could be confirmed. Second, we examined the predictive value of undermining motivations for reading comprehension. Third, we studied moderator effects of gender and age. Methods: We administered a reading motivation questionnaire and a reading comprehension test to 324 low-achieving adolescents. The questionnaire included items on affirming and undermining motivations for school and leisure time reading: intrinsic motivation and avoidance, self-efficacy and perceived difficulty. Results: Confirmatory factor analyses supported the assumed structure of the questionnaire. Undermining motivations, particularly perceived difficulty, explained unique variance in reading achievement. Gender and age did not moderate effects of motivational variables. Conclusions: Educators need to be aware of the role of undermining motivations. Future research should examine if interventions can lead to the reduction of such motivations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-522
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
Issue number3-4
Early online date19 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • adolescents
  • low achievers
  • reading comprehension
  • reading motivation


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