Motivation and Action: Introduction and Overview

  • Jutta HeckhausenEmail author
  • Heinz Heckhausen


Human behavior is generally characterized by its striving for efficacy and organized into phases of goal engagement and disengagement. People’s motivation to pursue a particular goal depends on situational incentives and personal preferences as well as interactions between these two factors. Ideally, the motivational and volitional regulations of behavior take turns during different behavioral phases and are separated from each other in a clear way. They both ensure in their own way the functional optimization of goal selection, goal striving, and goal realization. Individuals differ tremendously with regard to their motivational and volitional regulation. Both types of behavioral regulation start developing during early childhood and are closely associated with the behavior of adult socialization agents. During youth and adulthood, individuals' control striving becomes focused on their own development. It thus dynamically completes the dialectic interaction between individual and environment.


  1. Bitterman, M. E. (1975). The comparative analysis of learning. Science, 188, 699–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bowers, K. S. (1973). Situationism in psychology: An analysis and a critique. Psychological Review, 80, 307–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cantor, N., Mischel, W., & Schwartz, J. D. (1982). A prototype analysis of psychological situations. Cognitive Psychology, 14, 45–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). Cognitive adaptations for social exchange. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 163–228). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1994). Origins of domain-specificity: The evolution of functional organization. In L. A. Hirschfeld & S. A. Gelman (Eds.), Mapping the mind: Domain specificity in cognition and culture (pp. 85–116). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fodor, J. (1983). The modularity of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  7. French, J. A., Kamil, A. C., & Leger, D. (Eds.). (2001). Evolutionary psychology and motivation. Vol. 47 of the Nebraska symposium on motivation. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  8. Frijda, N. H. (1988). The laws of emotion. American Psychologist, 43, 249–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Geppert, U., & Heckhausen, H. (1990). Ontogenese der Emotion. In K. R. Scherer (Ed.), Enzyklopädie der Psychologie: Psychologie der Emotion (Vol. IV, pp. 115–213). Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  10. Gigerenzer, G., Todd, P. M., & the ABC Research Group. (1999). Simple heuristics that make us smart. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions. Strong effects of simple plans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 186–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Halisch, F., & Kuhl, J. (Eds.). (1986). Motivation, intention, and volition. Berlin, Germany: Springer.Google Scholar
  13. Hamburg, D. A. (1963). Emotions in the perspective of human evolution. In P. H. Knapp (Ed.), Expression of emotions in man (pp. 300–317). New York: International University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Heckhausen, H. (1977a). Achievement motivation and its constructs: A cognitive model. Motivation and emotion. (1, 4 (pp. 283–329). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  15. Heckhausen, H. (1977b). Motivation: Kognitionspsychologische Aufspaltung eines summarischen Konstrukts. Psychologische Rundschau, 28, 175–189.Google Scholar
  16. Heckhausen, H. (1989). Motivation und Handeln (2nd ed.). Berlin, Germany: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heckhausen, H., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Weinert, F. E. (Eds.). (1987). Jenseits des Rubikon: Der Wille in den Humanwissenschaften. Berlin, Germany: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Heckhausen, H., & Kuhl, J. (1985). From wishes to action: The dead ends and short cuts on the long way to action. In M. Frese & L. Sabini (Eds.), Goal-directed behavior: Psychological theory and research on action (pp. 134–160., 367–395)). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  19. Heckhausen, H., & Rheinberg, F. (1980). Lernmotivation im Unterricht, erneut betrachtet [Learning motivation in the classroom, revisited]. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 8, 7–47.Google Scholar
  20. Heckhausen, J. (1999). Developmental regulation in adulthood: Age-normative and sociostructural constraints as adaptive challenges. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Heckhausen, J. (2000). Evolutionary perspectives on human motivation. American Behavioral Scientist, 43, 1015–1029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Schulz, R. (2010). A motivational theory of life-span development. Psychological Review, 117, 32–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Janos, O., & Papoušek, H. (1977). Acquestion of appetition and palpebral conditioned reflexes by the same infants. Early Human Development, 1, 91–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jones, E. E., & Nisbett, R. E. (1971). The actor and the observer: Divergent perceptions of the causes of behavior. New York: General Learning.Google Scholar
  25. Kelley, H. H. (1967). Attribution theory in social psychology. In D. Levine (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 192–238). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  26. Klinger, E. (1971). Structure and functions of fantasy. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Krebs, J. R. (1980). Optimal foraging, predation risk and territory defense. Area, 68, 83–90.Google Scholar
  28. Kuhl, J. (1983). Motivation, Konflikt und Handlungskontrolle. Berlin, Germany: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kuhl, J. (2000a). A functional-design approach to motivation and volition: The dynamics of personality systems interactions. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Self-regulation: Directions and challenges for future research (pp. 111–169). New York: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kuhl, J. (2000b). A theory of self-development: Affective fixation and the STAR Model of personality disorders and related styles. In J. Heckhausen (Ed.), Motivational psychology of human development: Developing motivation and motivating development (pp. 187–211). New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lewin, K., Dembo, T., Festinger, L., & Sears, P. S. (1944). Level of aspiration. In J. McHunt (Ed.), Personality and the behavior disorders (Vol. 1, pp. 333–378). New York: Ronald.Google Scholar
  32. Mayr, E. (1974). Behavior programs and evolutionary strategies. American Scientist, 62, 650–659.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. McClelland, D. C., Koestner, R., & Weinberger, J. (1989). How do self-attributed and implicit motives differ? Psychological Review, 96, 690–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nesse, R. M. (2000). Is depression an adaptation? Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 14–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nesse, R. M. (2001). Evolution and the capacity for commitment. Volume III in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust. New York: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Olweus, D. (1976). Der “modern” Interaktionismus von Person und Situation und seine varianzanalytische Sackgasse. Zeitschrift für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie, 8, 171–185.Google Scholar
  37. Papoušek, H. (1967). Experimental studies of appetitional behavior in human newborns and infants. In H. W. Stevenson, E. H. Hess, & H. L. Rheingold (Eds.), Early behavior: Comparative developmental approaches (pp. 249–277). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  38. Plomin, R. (2004). Genetics and developmental psychology. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 50, 341–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Plomin, R., DeFries, J. C., Craig, I. W., & McGuffin, P. (Eds.). (2003). Behavioral genetics in the postgenomic era. Washington, DC: APA.Google Scholar
  40. Plutchic, R. (1980). Emotion: A psychoevolutionary synthesis. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  41. Rheinberg, F. (2002). Freue am Kompetenzerwerb, Flow-Erleben und motivpassende Ziele [Enjoyment of competence acquisition, flow experience and motive-congruent goals]. In M. V. Salisch (Ed.), Emotionale Kompetenz entwickeln (pp. 179–206). Kohlhammer: Sturrgart.Google Scholar
  42. Rheinberg, F. (2004). Motivationsdiagnostik [Diagnosing motivation]. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  43. Rozin, P. (1976). The evolution of intelligence and access to the cognitive unconscious. In J. M. Sprague & A. N. Epstein (Eds.), Progress in psychobiology and physiological psychology (pp. 245–277). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  44. Scherer, K. R. (1984). On the nature and function of emotion: A component process approach. In K. R. Scherer & P. Ekman (Eds.), Approaches to emotion (pp. 293–317). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  45. Schneider, K., & Dittrich, W. (1990). Evolution und Funktion von Emotionen. In K. R. Scherer (Ed.), Enzyklopädie der Psychologie: Psychologie der Emotion (pp. 41–114). Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  46. Watson, J. S. (1966). The development and generalization of contingency awareness in early infancy: Some hypotheses. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 12, 123–135.Google Scholar
  47. White, R. W. (1959). Motivation reconsidered: The concept of competence. Psychological Review, 66, 297–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wrosch, C., Scheier, M. F., Miller, G. E., Schulz, R., & Carver, C. S. (2003). Adaptive self-regulation of unattainable goals: Goal disengagement, goal reengagement and subjective well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(12), 1494–1508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Social BehaviorUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Psychological ResearchMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations