Skip to main content
Log in

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

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Psychological Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. We also had a pilot group of 29 participants with self-control instructions, but who drank a 300 ml sugar beverage after those instructions (see Gailliot et al., 2007), to check out their blood glucose levels throughout the experiment. Results were equivalent to the self-control group: Although they had a significant increase in blood glucose levels at time 2, as it may be expected, they had a substantial drop of blood glucose levels afterwards (at time 3). That is, they did not maintain high blood glucose levels throughout the experiment. They also showed no significant change in pulse rates. Because this group did not carry out the Anagram tasks nor filled out the subjective ratings of effort or fun at the end, we do not include their results in the main text.

References

  • Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J. (2005). How to resist temptation: the effects of external control versus autonomy support on self-regulatory dynamics. Journal of Personality, 73(2), 443–470. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00315.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (1998). Self-control depletion: is the active self a limited resource? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1252–1265.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F., Gailliot, M. T., DeWall, C. N., & Oaten, M. (2006). Self-regulation and personality: strength-boosting interventions and trait moderators of ego depletion. Journal of Personality, 74, 1773–1801.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Baumeister, R. F., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (2000). Ego depletion: a resource model of volition, self-regulation, and controlled processing. Social Cognition, 18, 130–150. doi:10.1521/soco.2000.18.2.130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beckmann, J., & Kuhl, J. (1984). Altering information to gain action control: functional aspects of human information processing in decision making. Journal of Research in Personality, 18(2), 224–237. doi:10.1016/0092-6566(84)90031-X.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beedie, C. J., & Lane, A. M. (2012). The role of glucose in self-control: another look at the evidence and an alternative conceptualization. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16(2), 143–153. doi:10.1177/1088868311419817.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Blunt, A., & Pychyl, T. A. (1998). Volitional action and inaction in the lives of undergraduate students: state orientation, procrastination and proneness to boredom. Personality and Individual Differences, 24(6), 837–846. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(98)00018-X.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bossong, B. (1994). Scholastic stressors and achievement-related anxiety. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckmann (Eds.), Volition and personality: action versus state orientation (pp. 397–406). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • DeWall, C. N., Baumeister, R. F., Gailliot, M. T., & Maner, J. K. (2008). Depletion makes the heart grow less helpful: helping as a function of self-regulatory energy and genetic relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1653–1662. doi:10.1177/0146167208323981.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dieffendorf, J. M., Hall, R. J., Lord, R. G., & Strean, M. L. (2000). Action-state orientation: construct validity of a revised measure and its relationship to work-related variables. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 250–263.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fuhrmann, A., & Kuhl, J. (1998). Maintaining a healthy diet: effects of personality and self-reward versus self-punishment on commitment to and enactment of self-chosen and assigned goals. Psychology and Health, 13, 651–686. doi:10.1080/08870449808407423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gailliot, M. T., & Baumeister, R. F. (2007). The physiology of willpower: linking blood glucose to self-control. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(4), 303–327. doi:10.1177/1088868307303030.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R. F., DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Plant, E. A., Tice, D. M., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2007). Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 325–336. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.2.325.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Goschke, T., & Kuhl, J. (1993). Representation of intentions: persisting activation in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19(5), 1211–1226. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.19.5.1211.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gröpel, P., Baumeister, R. F., & Beckmann, J. (2014). Action versus state orientation and self-control performance after depletion. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(4), 476–487. doi:10.1177/0146167213516636.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hagger, M. S., Wood, C., Stiff, C., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2010). Ego depletion and the strength model of self-control: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 495–525. doi:10.1037/a0019486.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Heatherton, T. F., & Wagner, D. D. (2011). Cognitive neuroscience of self-regulation failure. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(3), 132–139. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.12.005.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Heckhausen, H., & Strang, H. (1988). Efficiency under record performance demands: exertion control—an individual difference variable? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55(3), 489–498. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.55.3.489.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Inzlicht, M., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2012). What is ego depletion? Toward a mechanistic revision of the resource model of self-control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 450–463. doi:10.1177/1745691612454134.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jonides, J., Schumacher, E. H., Smith, E. E., Lauber, E. J., Awh, E., Minoshima, S., & Koeppe, R. A. (1997). Verbal working memory load affects regional brain activation as measured by PET. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9(4), 462–475. doi:10.1162/jocn.1997.9.4.462.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jostmann, N. B., & Koole, S. L. (2007). On the regulation of cognitive control: action orientation moderates the impact of high demands in Stroop interference tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136(4), 593–609. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.136.4.593.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kazén, M., Kaschel, R., & Kuhl, J. (2008). Individual differences in intention initiation under demanding conditions: interactive effects of state vs. action orientation and enactment difficulty. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 693–715. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2007.09.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kehr, H. M. (2004). Implicit/explicit motive discrepancies and volitional depletion among managers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(3), 315–327. doi:10.1177/0146167203256967.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Koole, S. L., & Fockenberg, D. A. (2011). Implicit emotion regulation under demanding conditions: the moderating role of action versus state orientation. Cognition and Emotion, 25(3), 440–452. doi:10.1080/02699931.2010.544891.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Koole, S. L., & Jostmann, N. B. (2004). Getting a grip on your feelings: effects of action orientation and external demands on intuitive affect regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(6), 974–990. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.87.6.974.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kuhl, J. (2000a). A functional-design approach to motivation and self-regulation: The dynamics of personality systems and interactions. In M. Boekaerts & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 111–169). San Diego: Academic Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Kuhl, J. (2000b). The volitional basis of Personality Systems Interaction Theory: applications in learning and treatment contexts. International Journal of Educational Research, 33(7–8), 665–703. doi:10.1016/S0883-0355(00)00045-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kuhl, J. (2001). Motivation und Persönlichkeit: Interaktionen psychischer Systeme [Motivation and personality: Interactions of mental systems]. Göttingen: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuhl, J., & Beckmann, J. (1994). Volition and personality: action versus state orientation. Göttingen: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuhl, J., & Fuhrmann, A. (1998). Decomposing self-regulation and self-control: The volitional components checklist. In J. Heckhausen & C. Dweck (Eds.), Life span perspectives on motivation and control (pp. 15–49). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuhl, J., & Kazén, M. (1994). Self-discrimination and memory: state orientation and false self-ascription of assigned activities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 1103–1115.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Moller, A. C., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). Choice and ego-depletion: the moderating role of autonomy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1024–1036. doi:10.1177/0146167206288008.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Muraven, M. (2008). Autonomous self-control is less depleting. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(3), 763–770. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2007.08.002.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Muraven, M., Gagné, M., & Rosman, H. (2008). Helpful self-control: autonomy support, vitality, and depletion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(3), 573–585. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2007.10.008.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Niendam, T. A., Laird, A. R., Ray, K. L., Dean, Y. M., Glahn, D. C., & Carter, C. S. (2012). Meta-analytic evidence for a superordinate cognitive control network subserving diverse executive functions. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, 12(2), 241–268. doi:10.3758/s13415-011-0083-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ruigendijk, H., & Koole, S. L. (2014). When focusing on a goal interferes with action control: action versus state orientation and over-maintenance of intentions. Motivation and Emotion, 38, 659–672. doi:10.1007/s11031-014-9415-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, R., & Deci, E. (2008). From ego depletion to vitality: theory and findings concerning the facilitation of energy available to the self. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 702–717. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00098.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, R. M., Koestner, R., & Deci, E. L. (1991). Ego-involved persistence: when free-choice behavior is not intrinsically motivated. Motivation and Emotion, 15(3), 185–205. doi:10.1007/BF00995170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sheldon, K. M., Ryan, R. M., & Reis, H. T. (1996). What makes for a good day? Competence and autonomy in the day and in the person. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 1270–1279. doi:10.1177/01461672962212007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Miguel Kazén.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kazén, M., Kuhl, J. & Leicht, EM. When the going gets tough…: Self-motivation is associated with invigoration and fun. Psychological Research 79, 1064–1076 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0631-z

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0631-z

Keywords

Navigation