Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 37–45

Psychological threat and extrinsic goal striving

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11031-008-9081-5

Cite this article as:
Sheldon, K.M. & Kasser, T. Motiv Emot (2008) 32: 37. doi:10.1007/s11031-008-9081-5


Although people generally endorse intrinsic goals for growth, intimacy, and community more than extrinsic goals for money, appearance, and popularity, people sometimes over-emphasize extrinsic goals, to the potential detriment of their well-being. When and why does this occur? Results from three experimental studies show that psychological threat increases the priority that people give to extrinsic compared to intrinsic goals. This was found in the case of existential threat (Study 1), economic threat (Studies 2), and interpersonal threat (Study 3). Discussion focuses on the possible reasons why threat breeds extrinsic orientations.


Psychological threatIntrinsic vs. extrinsic goals

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Knox CollegeGalesburgUSA