How situational is situational interest? Investigating the longitudinal structure of situational interest

Maximilian Knogler*, Judith M. Harackiewicz, Andreas Gegenfurtner, Doris Lewalter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Interest theory adopts a person-in-context perspective. In this view, a momentary experience of interest is shaped by environmental circumstances and stable personal preferences. According to the Four-Phase Model of Interest Development, environmental factors are important in defining the concept of situational interest (SI). This study investigates this assumption. Repeated measurements of SI collected from a sample of 327 high school students during problem-based learning activities were analyzed using Latent-State Trait (LST) theory. LST models allow identification of situation-specific and consistent components in repeated measurements. Results show that situation-specific effects had a strong influence on self-reported SI. Further analysis revealed that substantial variance components in SI were unconfounded with preexisting individual interest. Based on these two criteria, the findings support defining the psychological state of interest as "situational interest".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Situational interest
  • Individual Interest
  • Latent state-trait theory
  • Four-Phase Model of Interest Development

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