Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 218–231 | Cite as

Comparing the current and long-term career motivations of artists and business-people: Is everyone intrinsic in the end?

  • Kennon M. SheldonEmail author
  • Mike Corcoran
Original Paper


We considered the interplay of intrinsic and external career motivation by comparing two relevant vocational groups: artists and businesspersons. In Study 1 business students, relative to art students, reported more external and less intrinsic motivations for their current majors, and aspired more to money, status, and appearance in the future. However, the two groups were no different on intrinsic future aspirations for growth, connection, and contribution. In Study 2 business students again had more external and less intrinsic career motivation. However, they were again no different in their intrinsic future aspirations, and also, were no different from art students in their longer-term career motivations. Study 3 used a sample of mTurk workers and replicated the basic pattern of three-way interactions. Physical scientists/science students, also examined in all studies, tended to have current and longer-term motivations lying midway between the art and business groups. Consistent with organismic perspectives on human nature, it appears that everyone aspires for a meaningful and enjoyable future; however, business types may put off these motivations in the present, whereas artistic types pursue them directly. This lends support to the notion that despite motivational differences in the present, everyone desires to be intrinsic in the end.


Career motivation Self-determination theory Long-term motivation 



The study has been partially funded by the Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5-100’.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.National Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia

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