Advances in Motivation Science (Vol. 7)

The Functional Architecture of Human Motivation: Personality Systems Interactions Theory

Kuhl, J., Quirin, M. & Koole, S.L.

In this chapter, we present the theory of Personality Systems Interactions (PSI) as a meta framework for analyzing the functional architecture of human motivation and personality functioning. Section 1 delineates how PSI theory integrates various traditional motivation theories into seven distinct levels of human motivation and individual differences thereof. Section 2 covers principles of PSI theory that determine how motivational systems, located at the same level or at different levels, interact with each other. Sections 3 and 4 show how these principles can explain two major paradoxes in motivation psychology, namely a) people’s frequent failure to act upon their best intentions, and b) people’s tendency to adopt goals that run counter to their personal preferences and needs. Section 5 discusses how PSI theory conceives of implicit motives as “switch boards” that connect motivational systems at different levels. Section 6 reports neuroscientific evidence supporting PSI theory. Finally, Section 7 reflects more broadly on PSI theory’s key contributions to motivation science and its applications.


Gifted and Talented International

Autonomous creativity: The implicit autonomy motive fosters creative production and innovative behavior at school.

Baum, I., & Baumann, N.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1080/15332276.2019.1608136

Theories of creativity and empirical evidence have highlighted the importance of autonomy as a motivational source of creativity. However, we know little about the relationship between the implicit autonomy motive and creativity. Using a multi-method multi-informant design, we investigated the relationship between implicit autonomy motives and creative production. We assessed the implicit and explicit autonomy motives of N = 108 adolescents using the Operant Motive Test (OMT) and an explicit motive questionnaire. Then participants completed a creative figural drawing task. In addition, we collected teacher ratings regarding participants’ innovative behavior. Results revealed that implicit autonomy dispositions predicted not only production in a figural drawing task, but also teacher ratings of innovative behavior. These positive relationships remained stable when controlling for achievement motivations and other autonomy-related variables. In contrast, explicit autonomy dispositions could not predict creative production or teacher ratings of innovative behavior. We conclude that the implicit autonomy motive is an energizing force of creative production.


CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018

Let me be implicit: Using motive disposition theory to predict and explain behaviour in digital games.

Pöller, S., Birk, M.V., Baumann, N. & Mandryk, R.L.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1145/3173574.3173764

We introduce explicit and implicit motives (i.e., achievement, affiliation, power, autonomy) into player experience research and situate them in existing theories of player motivation, personality, playstyle, and experience. Additionally, we conducted an experiment with 109 players in a social play situation and show that: 1. As expected, there are several correlations of playstyle, personality, and motivation with explicit motives, but few with implicit motives; 2. The implicit affiliation motive predicts in-game social behaviour; and 3. The implicit affiliation motive adds significant variance to explain regression models of in-game social behaviours even when we control for social aspects of personality, the explicit affiliation motive, self-esteem, and social player traits. Our results support that implicit motives explain additional variance because they access needs that are experienced affectively and pre-consciously, and not through cognitive interpretation necessary for explicit expression and communication, as is the case in any approaches that use self-report.

Journal of Personality. Special Issue: Self-determination theory as a foundation for personality theory

Implicit motives and basic psychological needs.

Schüler, J., Baumann, N., Chasiotis, A., Bender, M., & Baum, I.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12431

The present article starts with discussing similarities and differences between conceptualizations of human needs in self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan [1985], Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior; Deci & Ryan [2000], Nebraska symposium on motivation: Perspectives on motivation) and motive disposition theory (MDT; McClelland, Human motivation, 1985). The second section focuses on the two-process model of psychological needs (Sheldon [2011], Psychological Review, 118: 552), which aims to integrate the two approaches, whereas the third section highlights some aspects of both theories that are still decoupled or even contradictory, but nevertheless still have a high potential to be linked. These three aspects are (a) the noncorresponding concepts of implicit power motive (MDT) and basic need for autonomy (SDT); (b) the differentiation of needs into hope and fear components, which is theoretically embedded in MDT, but not in SDT; and (c) MDT researchers' differentiation into an implicit and explicit motivational system, which is not included in SDT. Particularly, the last section highlights the potential for areas in which further integration is possible, which provides a foundation for comprehensive and exciting research on human motivation.

Why people do the things they do: Building on Julius Kuhl’s contributions to the psychology of motivation and volition.

Baumann, N., Kazén, M., Quirin, M., & Koole, S. L (Eds.)

Learn about the science of motivating people! How can we motivate students, patients, employees, and athletes? What helps us achieve our goals, improve our well-being, and grow as human beings? These issues, which relate to motivation and volition, are familiar to everyone who faces the challenges of everyday life. This comprehensive book by leading international scholars provides integrative perspectives on motivation and volition that build on the work of German will psychologist Julius Kuhl. The first part of the book examines the historical trail of the European and American research traditions of motivation and volition and their integration in Kuhl’s theory of personality systems interactions. The second part of the book considers what moves people to action – how needs, goals, and motives lead people to choose a course of action (motivation). The third part of the book explores how people, once they have committed themselves to a course of action, convert their goals and intentions into action (volition). The fourth part of the book shows what an important role personality plays in our motivation and actions. Finally, the fifth part of the book discusses how integrative theories of motivation and volition may be applied in coaching, training, psychotherapy, and education. This book is essential reading for everyone who is interested in the science of motivating people.

Why people do the things they do: Building on Julius Kuhl's contributions to the psychology of motivation and volition.

The integration of motivation and volition in Personality Systems Interaction (PSI) theory.

Kazén, M., & Qurin, M.

This chapter outlines the relationships between motivation and volition and their integration within Personality Systems Interaction (PSI) theory. The original focus on motivation in contemporary times in the USA (Atkinson, McClelland) and in Germany (Heckhausen) shifted towards volitional processes to explain human behavior and experience. We review how this shift was initiated by the work of Julius Kuhl in the 1980s, which led to his theory of action control, including the personality disposition of action and state orientation. PSI theory extended the scope of the work to all personality functioning. This theory postulates seven levels of personality, with increasing phylogenetic and ontogenetic complexity (habits, temperament, affect, coping with stress, motives, cognitive systems, and self-management), each of which has been the focus of influential theories of personality. We first address these levels and then describe the four mental systems of PSI theory (extension memory, intention memory, object recognition, and intuitive behavior control) together with the modulation assumptions (positive and negative affect) which determine the interactions among systems. We illustrate afterwards its integrative power by showing how the Rubicon model and action versus state orientation can be conceptualized within this theory. We finally stress the relevance of PSI theory and of the instruments derived from it in clinical, organizational, and educational contexts.

Why people do the things they do: Building on Julius Kuhl’s contributions to the psychology of motivation and volition.

The romantic science of Julius Kuhl.

Koole, S. L., & Baumann, N.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1027/00540-000

This chapter reviews the scholarly career of Julius Kuhl and the academic context in which he developed his work. Kuhl began his doctoral training in the late 1970s under supervision of motivation psychologists Heinz Heckhausen and Herbert Götzl at the University of Bochum, Germany. Subsequently, as a postdoc working with John Atkinson at the University of Michigan, Kuhl conducted computer simulations on the dynamics of motivated action. Returning to Germany in the early 1980s, Kuhl developed a new theory of volitional action control that kick-started the revival of German will psychology. In this context, Kuhl also developed a measure of individual differences in volitional efficiency, or action versus state orientation. In second half of the 1980s, Kuhl became professor at the University of Osnabrück, Germany, where he and his team developed several new experimental paradigms for studying volition. The theoretical integration of this work came about in the late 1990s, when Kuhl articulated Personality Systems Interactions (PSI) theory, a comprehensive theory of human motivation and personality. Throughout his career, Kuhl’s work has been characterized by a rigorous search for lawful processes and mechanisms, while maintaining a caring, involved attitude that respects the individuality of the person. This unique profile marks the romantic science of Julius Kuhl.


Motivation and Emotion

Enjoying influence on others: Congruently high implicit and explicit power motives are related to teachers’ well-being.

Wagner, L., Baumann, N., & Hank, P.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-015-9516-8

The present study examined the associations of implicit and explicit power motives with the well-being of teachers. Teachers (N = 170) participated in an online assessment, which included measures for implicit motives (assessed by the operant motive test), explicit motives, and well-being. We expected congruently high power motives to be linked with the highest levels of well-being. We tested this assumption using polynomial regressions with response surface analysis. Results were consistent with our hypothesis. Additionally, there was an effect of directional motive incongruence (a combination of a low implicit and a high explicit power motive was associated with higher well-being than a high implicit/low explicit combination), which did not hold when controlling for emotional stability. Results for achievement were comparable, but weaker, and there was no effect for motive incongruence. No significant associations were found for motive (in)congruence in the affiliation domain. Our findings underline the importance of the power motive in understanding individual differences in teachers’ well-being.

Motivation and Emotion

Guiding others for their own good: Action orientation is associated with prosocial enactment of the implicit power motive.

Baumann, N., Chatterjee, M. B. & Hank, P.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-015-9511-0

Prior research has repeatedly documented how people who are implicitly motivated by power motives may hurt other people’s interests. However, people may also enact the implicit power motive (nPower) in a prosocial manner. Using an Operant Motive Test, the authors differentiated five enactment strategies within nPower and investigated personality antecedents and personal benefits of a prosocial enactment strategy. Two studies found that demand-related action orientation (i.e., ability to self-regulate positive affect) was associated with prosocial enactment of nPower. Furthermore, prosocial enactment of nPower was associated with a higher explicit power motive among future teachers (Study 1) and future psychologists (Study 2). Finally, there was an indirect effect of action orientation through the prosocial enactment of nPower on the explicit power motive (Studies 1 and 2) and, in turn, on well-being (Study 2). Our integration of motivation and self-regulation research (the “what” and “how” of goal striving) helps to better understand the dual nature of power motives.


Psychological Research

When the going gets tough…: Self-motivation is associated with invigoration and fun.

Kazén, M., Kuhl, J., & Leicht, E.-M.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0631-z

Personality systems interaction (PSI) theory postulates two executive control modes in volitional action: Self-control and self-regulation (self-motivation). Self-control should deplete energy whereas self-motivation should maintain energy and result in invigoration. There were three groups of participants: Self-control, self-motivation, and pretend, who performed a resource-demanding Stroop-Shift and an anagram task. Performance and energy expenditure were examined in each task. Compared to the other groups, the self-motivation group showed increments in blood glucose throughout the experiment, indicating invigoration, and had better performance on the difficult Stroop-Shift task than the self-control group. Additionally, for the self-motivation group anagram performance correlated with less effort and ease of concentration and was moderated by fun in the task. These results are consonant with the predictions of PSI and self-determination theories. It is concluded that self-control depletes resources whereas self-motivation is associated with invigoration in carrying resource-demanding tasks.


Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Does achievement motivation mediate the semantic achievement priming effect?

Engeser, S. & Baumann, N.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036864

The aim of our research was to understand the processes of the prime-to-behavior effects with semantic achievement primes. We extended existing models with a perspective from achievement motivation theory and additionally used achievement primes embedded in the running text of excerpts of school textbooks to simulate a more natural priming condition. Specifically, we proposed that achievement primes affect implicit achievement motivation and conducted pilot experiments and 3 main experiments to explore this proposition. We found no reliable positive effect of achievement primes on implicit achievement motivation. In light of these findings, we tested whether explicit (instead of implicit) achievement motivation is affected by achievement primes and found this to be the case. In the final experiment, we found support for the assumption that higher explicit achievement motivation implies that achievement priming affects the outcome expectations. The implications of the results are discussed, and we conclude that primes affect achievement behavior by heightening explicit achievement motivation and outcome expectancies.

Psychology of self-control: New research

Self-control performance and individual differences in motivation.

Gröpel, P., & Kazén, M.

One of the most provocative and influential areas of research of the past decade has investigated why people succeed or fail on self-control. This research has revealed that initial acts of self-control cause subsequent self-control failure (the so-called ego depletion effect), and that increasing motivation by providing monetary incentives or increasing task meaningfulness counteracts this effect. In this chapter, we show that motivation may play a role in how good people are at regulating themselves even if there are no apparent extra incentives. In a series of experiments, we asked participants to perform self-control tasks that may but need not arouse their implicit, unconscious motives. When the task included internal power-related cues, persons high in implicit power motive continued performing well on a subsequent self-control task, whereas persons low in implicit power motive showed the ego depletion effect. Similar results were found with implicit achievement motive after an achievement-related task. Hence, a task itself may contribute to motivation when it includes internal cues that match a person's implicit motives. In another set of experiments, participants were first tested on their ability to self-motivate under high demands and then performed a series of self-control tasks. Persons high in self-motivation (action-oriented) continued performing well over time, whereas the performance of persons low in self-motivation (state-oriented) deteriorated. Physiological measures (the critical fusion frequency, the blood glucose) revealed that persons skilled in self-motivation increased their activation over time. Hence, a person's individual self-motivation skills may optimize the person's self-control over time. These findings fit very well with current models of self-control and provide important implications for research and practice that are discussed.


European Journal of Social Psychology

Failure cue priming and impaired cognitive performance: Analyses of avoidance motivation as a mediator and fear of failure as a moderator.

Schüler, J., Brandstätter, V. & Baumann, N.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.1942

The present research investigates whether and how learned symbols for failure reduce task performance. We tested the effect of number priming in two countries with different learning histories for numbers. Priming numbers associated with failure(6 in Germany and 1 in Switzerland) were hypothesized to reduce performance. As expected, in Switzerland, priming with the failure number 1 reduced performance (Study 1), whereas in Germany, priming with the failure number 6 impaired performance in analogy tasks (Study 2). Study 2 additionally analyzed the mechanism and showed that the relationship between failure number priming and performance was mediated by evoked avoidance motivation and that dispositional fear of failure moderated this mediation.

Frontiers in human neuroscience

Is love right? Prefrontal resting brain asymmetry is related to the affiliation motive.

Quirin, M., Gruber, T., Kuhl, J., & Düsing, R.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00902

Previous research on relationships between affective-motivational traits and hemispheric asymmetries in resting frontal alpha band power as measured by electroencephalography (EEG) focused on individual differences in motivational direction (approach vs. withdrawal) or behavioral activation. The present study investigated resting frontal alpha asymmetries in 72 participants as a function of individual differences in the implicit affiliation motive as measured with the operant motive test (OMT) and explored the brain source there of. Decreased relative right frontal activity as indexed by increased alpha band power was related to low levels of the implicit affiliation motive. No relationships were found for explicit personality measures. Intracranial current density distributions of alpha based on Variable Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (VARETA) source estimations suggests that the source of cortical alpha distribution is located within the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex (PFC). The present results are discussed with respect to differential roles of the two hemispheres in social motivation.

International Journal of Psychophysiology

Neural correlates of social motivation: an fMRI study on power versus affiliation.

Quirin, M., Meyer, F., Heise, N., Kuhl, J., Küstermann, E., Strüber, D., & Cacioppo, J. T.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.07.003

Power versus affiliation motivations refer to two different strivings relevant in the context of social relationships. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine neural structures involved in power versus affiliation motivation based on an individual differences approach. Seventeen participants provided self-reports of power and affiliation motives and were presented with love, power-related, and control movie clips. The power motive predicted activity in four clusters within the left prefrontal cortex (PFC), while participants viewed power-related film clips. The affiliation motive predicted activity in the right putamen/pallidum while participants viewed love stories. The present findings extend previous research on social motivations to the level of neural functioning and suggest differential networks for power-related versus affiliation-related social motivations.

Journal of Individual Differences

Implicit affiliation motive predicts intuitive processing.

Quirin, M., Düsing, R., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1027/1614-0001/a000086

Previous research demonstrated that affiliation primes facilitate intuitive thought (Kuhl & Kazén, 2008). We investigated whether trait tendencies toward affiliation also predict intuitive thought. Thirty-nine students filled in the operant motive test for the assessment of social motives, a variant of the Thematic Apperception Test, and corresponding self-report scales. Then, 9 months later, participants engaged in a remote associates task where they intuitively indicated whether three words are semantically related. As expected, the implicit affiliation motive significantly predicted the accuracy of identifying related word triads, though neither implicit power and achievement motives, nor explicit motives did so.

Journal of Research in Personality

The stories children's books tell us: Motive-related imagery in children’s books and their relation to academic performance and crime rates.

Engeser, S., Hollricher, I. & Baumann, N.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2013.04.002

We reasoned that children’s books mirror the current motivational orientation (Zeitgeist) of a society. Based on the work of McClelland and other motivational psychologists, we assessed the current motivational orientation via the prevalence of achievement, power, and affiliation imagery in the most popular children’s books of federal states in Germany. As expected, the achievement imagery was closely and significantly related to academic performance. Our assumption that power imagery was positively and affiliation imagery negatively related to youth crime (youth suspects) could not be supported. Thus, for the achievement domain, the findings provide strong evidence that children’s books tell us an important story worthy of further exploration


Advances in flow research

Autotelic personality.

Baumann, N.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-2359-1_9

This chapter reflects the search for more stable causes of flow experiences such as “flow personality” or “autotelic personality.” Although flow research is primarily concerned with flow as a motivational state, Csikszentmihalyi has introduced the concept of an autotelic personality, that is, a disposition to actively seek challenges and flow experiences. This chapter starts with an overview of Csikszentmihalyi’s conceptual ideas and phenomenological descriptions of autotelic personalities. Unfortunately, the rich concept was not complemented by an adequate operationalization. The chapter continues with a review of personality dispositions which can be conceived of as boundary conditions for flow experience. They reflect differences either in the need (achievement motive) or in the ability (self-regulation) to experience flow. The concept of an autotelic personality should encompass both aspects simultaneously. Next, the achievement flow motive (nAchFlow) is introduced which integrates need and ability aspects. As such, nAchFlow will be proposed as a way to operationalize an autotelic personality. Finally, the chapter offers a functional analysis of flow in achievement contexts within the framework of personality systems interaction (PSI) theory and gives an outlook.


Motivation and Emotion

Directional discrepancy between implicit and explicit power motives is related to well-being among managers.

Kazén, M., Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-011-9219-8

This study investigates explicit –implicit motive discrepancies and their effect on well-being. Participants were 382 executive managers (107 females and 275 males). Female managers had higher explicit affiliation scores than males, whereas male managers had marginally significant higher explicit power scores than females. Males and females did not differ in their implicit motives. We expected a directional discrepancy on the power motive (explicit vs. implicit: “Striving for goals without gaining pleasure from doing so”) to predict impaired well-being. Results were consistent with this hypothesis, using polynomial regression analysis with response surface methods, instead of calculating motive difference scores. Discrepancies in the achievement and affiliation motives were not related to well-being. Results are discussed considering the specificity of motive discrepancies for selected groups, such as managers, and the importance of distinguishing between absolute versus directional motive discrepancy scores in motivation research.

Motivation and Emotion

Seeking flow in the achievement domain: The flow motive behind flow experience.

Baumann, N. & Scheffer, D.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-010-9195-4

The authors propose a flow motive behind flow experience. It is defined as the intrinsic component of the achievement motive (i.e., need to seek and master difficulty), assessed with an operant motive test (OMT), and investigated with a multimethod approach. The achievement flow motive was stable over 2 years (Study 1) and positively correlated with the following variables: self-determination (Study 2), work-efficiency according to multisource feedbacks (Study 3), and flow experience during an outdoor assessment center (Study 4). In addition, the achievement flow motive was associated with the simultaneous presence of two sets of overt behaviors: Seeing difficulty (planning, analytical problem solving, and task focus) and mastering difficulty (high commitment, spreading optimism, and staying power). The direct relationship between achievement flow motive and flow experience was mediated by this behavioral pattern (Study 4). The achievement flow motive offers researchers a way to operationalize Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of autotelic personality.


Handbook of motivational counseling: Motivating People for Change

Touching a person’s essence: Using implicit motives as personal resources in counseling.

Alsleben, Ph., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470979952.ch5

Introduction to Personality Systems Interactions (PSI) Theory, Motives in PSI Theory. Four Types of Motives—Four Basic Needs Toward a Functional Explanation for Chronic Need Frustration Motives in the Context of Counseling Working with Implicit Motives: Some Suggestions for Training References.

Implicit motives

Implicit motives: A look from Personality Systems Interaction theory.

Baumann, N., Kazén, M., Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195335156.003.0013

This chapter provides an outline of Personality Systems Interaction (PSI) theory and its contribution to an understanding of implicit motives. It will be argued that the concept of motive can be applied across preconceptual, conceptual, and self-regulatory levels of analysis, which are related to three different motive measures (i.e., TAT/PSE, grid technique, and OMT, respectively). The Operant Motive Test (OMT) by Kuhl and Scheffer (1999) will be described in more detail. Recent results on the interaction between motives and cognitive mechanisms will be functionally analyzed: (a) Congruence between explicit and implicit motives, (b) self-determined versus incentive-focused levels of motive enactment, and (c) the role of need content in the modulation of cognitive behavioral systems.

Persönlichkeitsdiagnostik und Motivationsförderung:

Anwendung der PSI-Theorie in der Personalentwicklung [Job motivation and assessment].

Kuhl, J.,Scheffer, D., Mikoleit, B. & Strehlau, A.

Das Buch gibt einen Einblick in Modelle der Mitarbeitermotivation. Es überwindet die Schwächen bisheriger Modelle dadurch, dass Motivationsformen unterschieden werden, die für jeweils andere Aufgaben und Arbeitskontexte sinnvoll sind. Die Beschreibung der Funktionsprofile jeder Motivationsform auf der Grundlage einer fundierten Persönlichkeitstheorie (PSI-Theorie) eröffnet neue Perspektiven für die Förderung der Mitarbeitermotivation. Fallbeispiele verdeutlichen, welchen Nutzen eine komplexere Betrachtung der Persönlichkeit bei der Frage nach der Person-Job-Passung schaffen kann.


Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Motivation, affect, and hemispheric asymmetry: Power versus affiliation.

Kuhl, J., & Kazén, M.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.95.2.456

In 4 experiments, the authors examined to what extent information related to different social needs (i.e., power vs. affiliation) is associated with hemispheric laterality. Response latencies to a lateralized dot-probe task following lateralized pictures or verbal labels that were associated with positive or negative episodes related to power, affiliation, or achievement revealed clear-cut laterality effects. These effects were a function of need content rather than of valence: Power-related stimuli were associated with right visual field (left hemisphere) superiority, whereas affiliation-related stimuli were associated with left visual field (right hemisphere) superiority. Additional results demonstrated that in contrast to power, affiliation primes were associated with better discrimination between coherent word triads (e.g., goat, pass, and green, all related to mountain) and noncoherent triads, a remote associate task known to activate areas of the right hemisphere.

Mind and Society

Giving or Taking: The Role of Dispositional Power Motivation and Positive Affect in Profit Maximization.

Quirin, M., Beckenkamp, M., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11299-008-0049-7

Socio-economic decisions are commonly explained by rational cost versus benefit considerations, whereas person variables have not much been considered. The present study aimed at investigating the degree to which dispositional power motivation and affective states predict socio-economic decisions. The power motive was assessed both indirectly and directly using a TAT-like picture test and a power motive self-report, respectively. After 9 months, 62 students completed an affect rating and performed on a money allocation task (social values questionnaire). We hypothesized and confirmed that dispositional power should be associated with a tendency to maximize one’s profit but to care less about another party’s profit. Additionally, positive affect showed effects in the same direction. The results are discussed with respect to a motivational approach explaining socio-economic behaviour.

The handbook of approach and avoidance motivation

The functional architecture of approach and avoidance motivation.

Kuhl, J., & Koole, S.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203888148.ch32

The plan of this chapter is threefold. First, we discuss a hierarchical model of personality functioning. Second, we give a brief summary of PSI theory. In the third part, we describe in more detail how the distinction between approach and avoidance motivation is integrated by the theory of personality systems interactions across different levels of personality functioning. We devote special attention to self-regulation as the highest level of personality functioning. We conclude that approach and avoidance are not, as they may appear at first glance, confined to simple forms of motivation (e.g., related to fight or flight). As we will show, approach and avoidance systems may regulate even highly complex motivational phenomena such as self-determination and free will.


Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspsychologie

Motivation und Gesundheit. Bedürfnisfrustration als Vermittler zwischen Selbststeuerungsdefiziten und psychosomatischen Symptomen.

Baumann, N. & Quirin, M.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1026/0943-8149.14.2.46

Satisfaction of basic psychological needs is an important predictor of subjective well-being and mental health. According to personality systems interactions (PSI) theory, negative affect is expected to reduce access to integrated representations of own needs and action alternatives for individuals who are not able to self-regulate negative affect (i.e., state-oriented individuals). Thus, state-oriented perseveration of negative affect is expected to render the perception and satisfaction of personal needs more difficult and to lead to need frustration. This need frustration is conceived of as a profound stress factor that can mediate the relationship between self-regulatory deficits and psychosomatic symptoms. In the present study (N = 53), we found a significant relationship between state orientation and need frustration. As expected, the relationship between state orientation and diverse psychosomatic symptoms was – at least partially – mediated by need frustration. Thus, need frustration can be conceived of as an unspecific pathogenic factor. Implications for research and applications in health psychology are addressed.


Motivationspsychologie und ihre Anwendung

Wie gesund sind Ziele? Intrinsische Motivation, Affektregulation und das Selbst [How healthy are goals? Intrinsic motivation, affect regulation and self.].

Kuhl, J., & Koole, S.

The influence of goals on psychological health is sometimes positive and at other times negative. Why is this so? Drawing from personality systems interactions theory (Kuhl, 2000), the authors suggest that the answer lies in the degree to which goals are integrated in the person's extended self. The more goals are integrated into the self, the more likely it is that the goal will have beneficial effects on the person's health and well-being.


Handbook of motivational counseling:

Motivating People for Change. Motivational counseling in an extended functional context: Personality Systems Interaction Theory and Assessment.

Kaschel, R., & Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470713129.ch6

A new theory of personality (PSI theory) is summarized and applied to motivational counseling. This theory focuses on interactions among seven levels of personality such as temperament and affect, holistic and analytical cognitive systems on low (“irrational”) and on high (“rational”) levels of integration, need and motives, coping styles and self-regulatory functions. In contrast to dualistic approaches, a four-systems architecture is proposed on the two cognitive levels. The four-systems view avoids confounding rationality with analytical intelligence by adding to the rational (high-level) form of analytical processing that generates figure-ground separation, decontextualized objects, and dichotomous categories (“object recognition”). In a similar vein, the traditional (irrational) form of intuition is complemented by a high-level (rational) form of intuition (implicit extension memory and personal self). In two modulation assumptions, positive and negative affect modulate the interaction and communication between two pairs of mental systems. Restoring positive affect facilitates the interaction between two experiental systems (integration of new isolated experiences into extension memory and the self, which integrates all experiences). An in-depth discussion of a clinical case illustrates the application of new assessment system derived from PSI theory. This system scans seven levels of personality functioning and aims at the detection of one or a few key functions that bear a high potential for personal development (Evolvement-Oriented Scanning [EOS]). In counseling based on EOS, those key functions are used for formulating a simple and clear-cut message with regard to promising areas of self-development. Additional case studies are briefly summarized.


Motivation und Persönlichkeit: Interaktionen psychischer Systeme [Motivation and personality: Architectures of mood and mind].

Kuhl, J.

Die Theorie der Persönlichkeits-System-Interaktionen (PSI-Theorie), die in diesem Buch erstmals ausführlich dargestellt wird, ist ein umfassender Versuch, die Motivations- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie auf neue Weise zusammenzuführen. Die PSI-Theorie beschreibt Interaktionen zwischen sieben Systemebenen. Persönlichkeitsphänomene werden nicht wie in den herkömmlichen Theorien durch kognitive Inhalte oder Intentionen erklärt, sondern durch Funktionsmechanismen, die sich aus der Interaktion psychischer Systeme ergeben.

Trends and prospects in motivation research.

Efklides, A., Kuhl, J., & Sorrentino R.M.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-306-47676-2

Researchers in achievement motivation are becoming all the more aware of the importance of affect in motivation and self-regulation. This leads to extension and integration of existing theories as well as to new theories that provide a good account of existing data and offer new insight into the mechanism underlying the functioning of motivation. This book presents up-to-date basic research in motivation and self-regulation and an overview of the field, with particular emphasis on issues such as change of motivation, effects of context and culture on motivation, relations of cognition and affect in motivation and self-regulation, and motivation in school, in sports, and in the aged.

Trends and prospects in motivation research

A functional approach to motivation: The role of goal-enactment and self-regulation in current research on approach and avoidance.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-306-47676-2_14

What are the basic functions and the basic systems responsible for motivation and personality? With regard to explicating the similarities and differences among various constructs in functional terms, correlations do not help very much: The typically obtained significant, but low or moderate correlation that is obtained among almost any pair of personality variables leaves about as much room for inferring similarities as it does for inferring differences between the two constructs in question. Differentiation among constructs will remain difficult as long as the areas of motivation and personality in psychology cannot specify their theoretical concepts in basic functional terms. One reason that keeps us from adopting a functional view is the dependence on cognitive or intentional accounts. Such explanations attribute observed behavior to the content of the actors' thoughts, desires, and intentions. For example, low persistence may be attributed to a belief in the uncontrollability of a task (Atkinson & Feather, 1966; Bandura, 1986; Dweck, 1986), impaired cognitive performance after induction of positive mood may be attributed to participants' beliefs that positive mood signals that analytical thinking is not needed because there is no "problem" as long as one feels happy (Schwarz, Bless, & Bohner, 1991). In order to explain the alternative type of functional explanations of these and many other phenomena it is necessary to summarize the basic assumptions of the theory of personality that I have developed. After that I will discuss the integrative potential of the new theory by applying it to four research domains described in previous chapters of this volume: Achievement motivation (Thrash & Elliot, chapter 1; see record 2006-20747-001), certainty and uncertainty orientations (Sorrentino, Walker, Hodson, & Roney, chapter 11; see record 2006-20747-011), defensiveness and other motivations concerning the self (Trope, Hassin, & Gervey, chapter 12; see record 2006-20747-012), and self-development during life transitions (Chartrand, Ruble, & Trope, chapter 13; see record 2006-20747-013).


Current advances in psychological science: An international perspective

Motivation and Volition.

Kuhl, J.

Focus on ways in which cognitive and motivational processes differ / compare the 2 areas directly / briefly describe differences between them in terms of their metatheoretical basis / illustrate the state of the art in motivational psychology in terms of typical research topics and the explanatory paradigms employed / propose a new theoretical framework for motivational psychology that may help integrate seemingly contradictory paradigms
research topics [motivation, volition, control beliefs] / explanatory paradigms [hasty habit paradigm, passionate pet paradigm, propositional professors paradigm, hovering homunculi paradigm, self-control, self-regulation] / theoretical framework for the study of motivation [constraints from neuroscience, Personality Subsystems Interaction theory: a framework for motivation and personality, cognition and motivation: an evolutionary perspective]


Heinz Heckhausen: Erinnerungen. Würdigungen, Wirkungen.

Intuition und Logik der Forschung in der Psychologie [Intuition and logic of discovery in psychology].

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-75552-1_4

Mit Heinz Heckhausen haben wir nicht nur einen der bedeutendsten deutschen Psychologen der Nachkriegszeit, sondern auch eine Forscherpersönlichkeit verloren, die uns eine besondere Art vorgelebt hat, sein Leben einem der komplexesten Forschungsgegenstände überhaupt zu widmen, dem Verhalten des Menschen. Heckhausens vielfältige Beiträge zur Entwicklungs-, Motivations- und Volitionspsychologie sowie sein forschungspolitisches Engagement sind inzwischen vielerorts gewürdigt worden. Ich möchte einen Aspekt seiner Forscherpersönlichkeit lebendig werden lassen, der auf eine implizite wissenschaftstheoretische Position hinweist, die für die Psychologie und ganz besonders für die Motivations- und Volitionspsychologie ganz neue Impulse ermöglicht. Obwohl ich hoffe, zeigen zu können, wie sehr meine wissenschaftstheoretischen Reflexionen auf den Einfluβ Heinz Heckhausens zurückgehen, bin ich für die spezifische Gestalt, die sie in meinem Entwurf erhalten, natürlich allein verantwortlich.


Frontiers of motivational psychology

Motivational chaos: A simple model.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-6341-5_4

In psychology, the use of formal models is controversial. Some psychologists believe that the premature construction of formal models blinds us to the complexities of the phenomena to be explained, while others maintain that only formal models can achieve what science is all about: Replace our everyday intuitions about the world by precise formal statements whose implications can be tested empirically. Although descriptive methods are more adequate for capturing the complexities of behavior in natural settings than formal models, the former provide little explanatory value. However, descriptive and formal approaches are complementary rather than contradictory. Ideally there should be an optimal balance between documentation of behavioral phenomena and development of formal models explaining those observations. In most areas of social psychology this balance has not yet been achieved. Documentation of phenomena fills far more journal space than formal modelling. In the area of social motivation the development of formal models is more advanced than in most other areas due to the work of Atkinson and his associates (1957; 1958; 1981; Atkinson & Feather, 1966; Atkinson & Birch, 1970; 1978).

Motivation, thought, and action

Integrating cognitive and dynamic approaches: A prospectus for a unified motivational psychology.

Kuhl, J.

Human behavior appears as an endless sequence of activities that may be described in terms of the goals toward which they are directed. A theory of motivation should answer these kinds of question: What determines a person's inclination to engage in one activity rather than another? How long does a person persist in pursuing one goal before switching to an activity that is directed toward another goal? What proportion of the available time does a person spend in a given activity? How often does a person resume an activity after having engaged in various other ones? Cognitive theories of motivation have focused on the first and, to a lesser extent, the second of these questions (Atkinson & Feather, 1966; Heckhausen, 1977; Weiner, 1972). The dynamic theory of motivation views all of the questions as interrelated (see Chapter 2) and proposes answers that differ in some respects from propositions derived from cognitive theories.


Psychological Research

Motivational determinants of motor performance: The hidden second task.

Kuhl, J., Koch, B.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00308599

The present study was designed to test facilitating and debilitating effects of motivational processes on motor behavior. It was predicted that motivational processes have a more pronounced effect on motor performance when control is frequently transferred to attentional mechanisms (i. e., early in the acquisition phase). The results were consistent with this expectation. A strong motive to achieve success and pre-treatment designed to enhance achievement motivation were associated with an increase in the quality of performance. A strong tendency to engage in state-oriented cognitive activities, by contrast, (e.g., thinking about the potential threat to one's self-esteem resulting from failure) was associated with poorer performance, It is concluded that experiments on motor behavior in which subjects are instructed to perform a single motor task may actually involve dual-task (or even multiple-task) performance if some part of the subjects' attentional capacity is used for task-irrelevant cognitive activities.


Motivation, Konflikt und Handlungskontrolle [Motivation, conflict, and action control].

Kuhl, J.

Die Motivationspsychologie sucht Erklärungen für zielgerichtetes Verhalten. Warum beschäftigt sich ein Schüler am Nachmittag mit seinen Hausaufgaben, während sich sein Klassenkamerad auf dem Fußballplatz tummelt? Warum schreibt ein Wissenschaftler eine Monographie über die Ergebnisse seiner bisherigen Forschungsarbeit, während sein Kollege entsprechendes nicht tut? Im Alltag greifen wir im Wesentlichen auf zwei verschiedene Erklärungstypen zur Beantwortung solcher Fragen zurück. Ein Schüler mag der Erledigung seiner Hausaufgaben ausweichen, weil er diese Betätigung für wenig attraktiv hält, weil er meint, ihm würden die notwendigen Fähigkeiten dazu fehlen.


Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Behavioral change in a constant environment: Shift to more difficult tasks with constant probability of success.

Kuhl, J., Blankenship, V.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.37.4.551

Tested hypotheses derived from J. Atkinson and D. Birch's (1970, 1974) dynamic theory of action, which proposes a theoretical reorientation from an episodic to a dynamic view of motivation. Traditional episodic theories of achievement motivation predict constant risk preference over a series of free choices from various difficulty levels when the assumed situation-specific determinant (probability of success) remains constant. In contrast to this, dynamic theory predicts a shift to more and more difficult tasks for success-oriented and failure-oriented Ss. Dynamic theory predicts that the initial ambivalence between very easy and very difficult tasks predicted by traditional theory of achievement motivation for failure-oriented Ss, is quickly replaced by a consistent preference for very easy tasks in that motive group. 77 undergraduates were administered a TAT using sex-specific verbal cues, and a short form of the Test Anxiety Questionnaire. 32 males and 32 females were randomly chosen and assigned to experimental or free-choice groups. Results support the predictions.

Psychological Review

The dynamic theory of achievement motivation: From episodic to dynamic thinking.

Kuhl, J., Blankenship, V.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295x.86.2.141

J. W. Atkinson and D. Birch's (1970) dynamic theory of action is discussed with regard to the theory of achievement motivation. On the basis of several additional assumptions that coordinate parameters of the dynamic theory to achievement-related antecedents, implications are derived that are in contrast to expectation derived from traditional episodic theories and that refer to shifts in risk taking when subjective probability of success has stabilized. In addition, the implications of the dynamic theory for the theory of fear of failure are discussed. Recent experimental results lend support to the dynamic theory and suggest a theoretical reorientation from episodic thinking to dynamic thinking.


Psychological Review

Standard-setting and risk preference: An elaboration of the theory of achievement motivation and an empirical test.

Kuhl, J.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.85.3.239

Proposes an elaboration of J. W. Atkinson's (1957) theory of achievement motivation to include standard setting as a determinant of risk preference and motivational tendency. When the personal standard is located at an intermediate level of task difficulty, the elaborated theory reduces to the original theory. In Ss having a motive to achieve success higher than the motive to avoid failure, a shift of the peak of the preference function is predicted from moderately difficult to more difficult tasks if the standard is more difficult and to easier tasks if the standard is easier. In failure-oriented Ss, an inverse relation between difficulty of standards and preferred difficulty level is predicted. Experimental results from 32 undergraduates confirm these predictions. It is concluded that some of the inconsistent findings concerning the preference functions of success-oriented or failure-oriented Ss can be explained by individual differences in personal standards of excellence.

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