Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 506–520 | Cite as

Torn between want and should: An experience-sampling study on motivational conflict, well-being, self-control, and mindfulness

  • Axel GrundEmail author
  • Carola Grunschel
  • Dominik Bruhn
  • Stefan Fries
Original Paper


We assumed that situations of motivational want conflict (i.e., feeling that one wants to do something else) and should conflict (i.e., thinking that one should do something else) show differential relationships to different components of well-being because more affective or more cognitive motivational aspects are ignored, respectively. Moreover, we assumed that these differences contribute to the understanding of different self-regulatory styles. Using an experience-sampling approach, 58 university students indicated their current affect, the underlying form of motivation, and whether they experienced a want or a should conflict regarding their daily activities (N = 2376). Furthermore, we assessed participants’ self-control and mindfulness before and life satisfaction after the experience-sampling period. As expected, want conflicts came along with lower affective well-being, but were unrelated to cognitive life satisfaction. Although should conflicts also yielded a small, negative association with some aspects of affective well-being, overall, their negative relation with life satisfaction was more pronounced. Positive paths of self-control on affective well-being were mediated via less want and should conflicts, whereas positive paths of both mindfulness and self-control on life satisfaction were mediated via less should conflicts. The relative importance of want and should conflicts in daily self-regulation and well-being is discussed.


Autonomy Mindfulness Motivational conflict Self-control Well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Grund
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carola Grunschel
    • 1
  • Dominik Bruhn
    • 1
  • Stefan Fries
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany

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