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One of the great challenges of modern society is to sustain the vast array of needs, motivations, and impulses that drive the human experience. For organizations to operate in service to human beings, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of human motivation and the role that organizations play. There may exist basic psychological needs, such as to be effective, autonomous, and to maintain positive social ties, and organizations can either support these needs or frustrate them. When these needs are supported, it may encourage long-term goal pursuit, organizational commitment, and the pursuit of people’s highest potential. When these needs are frustrated, it may trigger ancient, (self-)destructive tendencies that undermine not just the organization’s success, but also the individual’s quality of life and social functioning.

In this program, we take a social-cognitive approach to identify basic motivational processes at work and beyond.

Research questions

  • How do basic psychological needs manifest in organizational contexts, and what happens when these needs are supported (or frustrated)?
  • How do organizational features (e.g., culture, norms and values) shape the types of goals people pursue as well as the means through which people pursue them?
  • How do unconscious motivational processes give rise to unexplainable phenomena, including intuition and intrinsic motivation?
  • Can we understand people’s behavior in negative-feedback situations from an emotion-regulation perspective?

Relevant publications

  • Grundmann, F., Scheibe, S., & Epstude, K. (2021). When Ignoring Negative Feedback Is Functional: Presenting a Model of Motivated Feedback Disengagement. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 30(1), 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721420969386
  • Van Yperen, N. W., & Leander, N. P. (2014). The overpowering effect of social comparison information: On the misalignment between mastery-based goals and self-evaluation criteria. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin40(5), 676-688. 

Team members working on motivation topics