Motivation, Gender, and Possible Selves


  • We are very much indebted not only to the five anonymous reviewers of this paper for their insightful comments, but also to the journal's associate editor, Pavel Trofimovic, for his guidance in helping us to address these observations and for his own rigorous scrutiny of our work. We are similarly grateful to journal editor Lourdes Ortega for the suggestions she made when finally reviewing the manuscript. In addition we would like to express our gratitude to the young people who participated in the study, the principals who gave us access to their schools, and to all of the teachers who allowed us into their classrooms and were on hand to help when the data were collected.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alastair Henry, University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Trollhattan 461 86, Sweden. E-mail:


Despite the consistency with which gender differences have been found in second language motivation, little systematic research has taken place on motivation and gender to date. Permeating self-concept development, gender impacts not only current selves but also future-oriented possible selves. In construing possible selves, females tend to emphasize interdependence, meaning they invest more in interpersonal relationships and self–other interaction. Based on instruments measuring ideal language-speaking/using selves and an interdependent self-construal in a sample of 140 female and 129 male adolescents enrolled in the final year of secondary education in Sweden, and using confirmatory factor analysis, support was found for the hypothesis that gender-related variance on a measure of the ideal language-speaking/using self could be accounted for by an interdependent self-construal. In discussing the results, further avenues for exploring the impact of gender on possible selves using more contextually sensitive research designs are presented.