How ideologically motivated cognition influences the social judgments of egalitarians and elitists
This talk will present studies showing how the beliefs people hold about whether society should be organized based on elitist or egalitarian principles can influence their judgments of individuals and social situations. I argue that these beliefs reflect a preference for two ideological systems that have been a source of tension for as long as human beings have differentiated themselves into groups. My colleagues and I have studied how these systems operate at the level of individual psychology. Our studies show that people who strongly endorse these systems exhibit a systematic skewing in a variety of social judgments including those associated with the fairness of an Affirmative Action-based hiring decision, the credibility of an academic, the interpretation of a cross-sex workplace conflict, and the willingness to hire minority vs. non-minority job candidates. The general pattern we observe is that contrary to the popular lay belief that members of minority or disadvantaged groups (e.g., African-Americans, women) are generally perceived less favourably than members of dominant groups (e.g., Whites, males), these perceptions are reversed when the person making the judgment is strongly committed to an egalitarian ideology. In contrast, those committed to an elitist ideology are most likely to judge people from historically dominant groups favourably relative to people from historically disadvantaged groups. Ideological moderates do not exhibit these systematic skews in social judgment.
When does power hurt or help me and others?
Power has received a bad reputation and prior research has repeatedly documented how people who are motivated by power motives may hurt other people’s interests. However, people may also enact the implicit power motive in a prosocial manner. Furthermore, enjoying influence on others is an essential resource and good person-job fit for many professions (e.g., teacher, psychologist, manager). In my talk, I will elaborate on the dual nature of power and show when power hurts and when it helps own and other people’s interests. First, I will review findings showing that power strivings hurt well-being if they are not congruent across implicit and explicit motives. Which direction of motive incongruence is more detrimental to well-being varies significantly across studies and may depend on the job domain (e.g., teacher vs. manager). Second, people may differ in the way they enact the power motive. I will differentiate five enactment strategies that are coded in the Operant Motive Test (OMT): prosocial guidance, status, coping, dominance/inhibition, and fear of powerlessness. Enacting the power motive in a prosocial vs. non-prosocial way has important consequences for personal well-being. Third, I will review findings showing that action orientation is conducive to the prosocial enactment of the implicit power motive and congruence between implicit and explicit motives. Finally, I will discuss that the coding scheme of the OMT and our approach to power integrates research on motivation and self-regulation (the “what” and “how” of goal striving) and helps to better understand the dual nature of power motives.
Extracting metaphors and goals from social situations: What motivates choice in economic games?
I propose that people often extract metaphors when confronting novel social situations, leading them to adopt different goals—and to make different choices—in seemingly equivalent situations. Economic game experiments illustrate this process. A researcher can set the economic consequences of different games to be identical, but differing procedural details cause people to associate those games with different everyday situations, thus adopting different goals and making different decisions. The prisoner’s dilemma, for example, makes people think of games of calculation and risk (e.g., poker, chess), leading them to choices that maximize their rational self-interest. The trust game contains those components, but also makes people think of informal rituals of social reciprocity (e.g., exchanging favors at work), making people concerned about social obligations of politeness. As such, people respond to the trust game with different emotions, and make more pro-social choices, than they do in the prisoner’s dilemma—even when the two games are identical in their underlying economics. These data suggest that theorists should not lump behavior from different economic games together, that people’s reactions show a nuanced understanding of social norms and practices, and that people may be self-regulating not in terms of the potential outcomes of their actions as much as they are those actions themselves.
Harnessing immediate rewards to increase intrinsic motivation
We provide a framework for understanding intrinsic motivation using insights from research on immediate and delayed rewards. We explore the parallels between intrinsic (vs. extrinsic) motivation and immediate (vs. delayed) rewards and present support for three propositions. First, intrinsic (but not extrinsic) rewards are valued more in the present than with a temporal delay. For example, people value learning new things more in their present job than in previous and future jobs. Second, immediate rewards render the experience of an activity as more intrinsic. For example, receiving an immediate (vs. delayed) bonus payment increases the motivation to engage in a task during a free choice phase. Third, by increasing intrinsic motivation, immediate rewards increase persistence. For example, focusing on the positive taste of healthy food increases consumption compared with focusing on the delayed health benefits.
Motivated erotic cognition: When bodily arousal leads to the regulation of subjective arousal
A clinically toned literature on sexual arousal in response to erotic stimuli established the finding that bodily and subjective arousal are often dissociated in women, whereas both seem to correspond almost perfectly in men. Despite the pervasiveness of this finding, explanations of the phenomenon remain scarce and, even more importantly, largely untested. The present talk presents a social psychological perspective on the so-called discordance phenomenon and proposes a regulatory mechanism in women: I suggest that the discordance phenomenon derives from the fact that sexual arousal serves different informational purposes for men and women. Whereas male subjective arousal is directly grounded in bodily experiences, women learned to contextualize bodily signals and therefore attend more closely to the source of their arousal. Therefore, when women experience bodily arousal in response to pornography, they experience a motivational mismatch. Consequently, women spontaneously activate restrictive sexual norms and stereotypes, which, in the end, down-regulate their subjective experience. Multiple experiments confirming this line of reasoning will be presented and discussed, also in light of recent clinical studies.
The compensatory model of motivation and volition as a reference point for research on social motives
We introduce the compensatory model of work motivation and volition (Kehr, AMR, 2004) and report corresponding empirical research on social motives. The structural components of the model are implicit motives, explicit motives, and perceived abilities; the functional processes are volitional regulation (compensating for inadequate motivation) and problem solving (compensating for inadequate perceived abilities). Regarding power and affiliation motivation, the model has been employed to investigate the consequences of implicit/explicit motive discrepancies, the motivating potential of visions, and the conceptual relations between implicit motives and transformational leadership. According to the compensatory model, implicit/explicit motive discrepancies should result in impaired intrinsic motivation and performance, the depletion of will-power, and increased burnout symptoms. We report several empirical studies confirming these predictions. Our experimental research on visions was led by the proposition that visions motivate people by arousing their implicit motives. In line with predictions, one experiment demonstrated that motive-specific visions induce thematically congruent changes in affective, behavioral, and cognitive indicators of actual motivation. In another experiment, we asked participants to derive goals from their own personal visions. As predicted, these vision-derived goals were positively related to the person’s implicit motives, whereas other personal goals were not. A third line of research revealed systematic relations between the three transformational leadership dimensions individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation and the affiliation, achievement, and power motive, respectively. Experiments showed that implicit motives affect individual preferences for the corresponding transformational leadership behaviors, and that transformational leadership behaviors enhance work-related outcomes the better they match the followers’ corresponding implicit motives. Based on these and other findings, the compensatory model has been applied as a reference point for motivation management on different levels of organizations. We briefly report recent initiatives in using these programs.
Power boosts reliance on preferred processing styles
Past research has proposed that power leads to heuristic and category based processing of information. We however propose the novel idea that power magnifies chronically accessible information processing styles, and that this can lead to systematic or heuristic processing. The results of three studies and a meta-analysis supported these claims. Power increased heuristic information processing, manifested in the recognition of schema consistent information (Study 1), as well as the use of stereotypical information to form impressions (Study 2), and decreased the complexity of categorical representations (Study 3), only for participants who by default processed information in a heuristic way. For those who preferred to process information systematically, power led to opposite effects. These findings show that power licenses individuals to rely on dominant processing strategies, and that power increases interpersonal variability.
The Role of Volitional Regulation in Controlled Motivation: Positive Reframing Buffers Ego-Depletion
Previous research has shown that 1) self-control is limited (i.e., ego-depletion) and 2) controlling situations require a higher amount of self-control compared to autonomy supportive situations. What remains unresolved is which techniques could improve one’s self-control. Positive reframing is a promising yet understudied volitional technique (Kehr, 2004; Kehr & von Rosenstiel, 2006). It refers to the consideration of positive aspects concerning the matter at hand. We posit that a) positive reframing reduces the amount of required self-control and therefore buffers depletion, because b) it initiates positive affective reactions likely due to a temporary arousal of implicit motives.
We conducted a dual task experiment with 204 participants using a 2 (controlled motivation vs. autonomous motivation) x 2 (reframing vs. no reframing) between-subjects design. First, participants got familiar with the initial task, a vigilance task, in a practice trials period. Then, following guidelines by Deci, Eghrari, Patrick and Leone (1994), we manipulated the type of motivation performing the task. Thereafter, participants in the reframing condition were encouraged to think about the positive value of performing the task. During the vigilance task we assessed participants’ affective reactions. The vigilance task was followed by a Stroop task to assess the participants’ depletion.
In line with our hypotheses, guiding participants to reframe the task in the controlled condition resulted in the same small amount of depletion observed in the autonomous condition. More importantly, after reframing the initial task in the controlled condition, participants showed significantly less depletion than participants in the controlled condition who did not reframe the task.
Since this is the first study to show that positive reframing indeed buffers ego-depletion, more research is needed to elucidate the processes underlying this effect. The mediating role of positive affective reactions remains unclear and will be discussed.
Decisions driven by desire – investigating the role of need for sex in decision making
Generally, people want their decisions to be rational and well-grounded, especially in a business context. However, a substantial body of research shows that in reality decisions often do not meet these standards. For example, activated social motives and basic needs have been shown to influence the decision making process. Interestingly, one of the most relevant and basic human needs has largely been neglected in this regard: The need for sex. However, sexual cues can be found in most social interactions, even in the workplace. Just like other implicit motives, the implicit need for sex should also influence our decision making. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how individual differences in need for sex affect the decision making process. We assessed these differences by means of an automatic attentional bias (i.e. speed of gaze direction and total viewing time) towards visual sexual stimuli, measured with a remote eye-tracking system. In our decision scenario, participants were presented with several fictional opposite-sex team partners with varying degrees of attractiveness and competence and were asked to judge their qualification for a joint project. We predicted that a higher implicit need for sex as indicated by the attentional bias towards sexual stimuli would be associated with a stronger preference for the sex-related cue, i.e. the attractiveness, as compared to the work-related cue, i.e. the competence, when evaluating the team partners. Although the results did not show this effect, one attentional bias measurement did correlate significantly with explicit measurements of sexual motivation, indicating that the measurement might be valuable for future research endeavors.
Kai Sassenberg, University of Tübingen
The intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics of self-regulation in the leadership process
This talk presents a model and empirical research approaching the antecedents and consequences of leadership behavior from a self-regulation perspective. The presented research program tested the role of regulatory focus (1) as an antecedent of leadership behavior and (2) as a key factor guiding leaders’ social influence on followers. In other words, this research program addresses two prominent gaps in research on leadership behavior and thereby facilitates the understanding of the intrapersonal and interpersonal motivational dynamics of leadership. The reported studies include lab experiments manipulating leadership and power roles as well as field studies involving leaders and subordinates in business and educational setting in which regulatory focus was either assessed or manipulated. The findings are integrated into a model that suggests extensions of this research, including theorizing about the importance of self-regulatory mechanisms in leadership going beyond regulatory focus theory.
Greenwashing: Social motivation for supporting dirty companies
Companies with an obvious negative impact on the environment (e.g. oil companies) often use marketing strategies that let them appear “greener” than they actually are, which is called “Greenwashing”. Those strategies usually include donating money to the community, highlighting or overstating the positive (economic) impact of their enterprise and emphasising on high safety standards for environmental protection, thus concealing or downplaying their actual environmental impact. If greenwashing strategies are successful, it will be harder for societies to trade off companies’ corporate good (self-interest and shareholder returns) against their social good (value co-creation according to norms and obligations of a community of stakeholders). Interestingly, the millennial generation overwhelmingly believes that business needs to pay as much attention to people and purpose as it does to products and profit. These “digital natives” have greater needs to belong to social groups, share with others and have peer bonds. Therefore, our research question was how well greenwashing strategies work for Millennials and which motivational processes and conditions can we identify? In this research, we first measured N = 195 business students’ implicit and explicit motives as well as their moral identity. In a separate session, we later exposed them to website promotions emphasising either on corporate or on social good of the TransCanada Energy East pipeline project. Finally, we compared both groups’ perceptions of the controversial issues of safety, economic benefits, community relations and environment/climate in regard to this pipeline project. As expected, the results show that the perceptions starkly depend on the type of promotion that the Millennials had seen before. Interestingly, a conditional process model indicated that the explicit affiliation motive as well as the implicit power motive predicted their moral identity, which, in turn, predicted the perception of the controversial issues in the social good condition. The results highlight that the observed Millennials were susceptible to Greenwashing but also that social motivation plays a crucial role in explaining the results beyond the manipulation.
Kama Muta: The experience of sudden intensification of communal sharing relationships
Abrupt changes in social motives are experienced as emotions. In particular, sudden intensification of a communal sharing (CS) relationship is felt as an emotion we call “kama muta” (Sanskrit ‘moved by love’). Vernacular approximations include being moved, touched, heart-warming, rapture, bewegt sein and gerührt sein – although none of these exactly correspond to the psychological phenomenon. People may experience kama muta (KM) when their own CS relationships suddenly intensify, or when they observe others’ CS relationships suddenly intensify. For example, people feel KM when seeing the first ultrasound of their baby, in reunions, when receiving a great kindness, at patriotic and memorial ceremonies, and when feeling a deity’s love. When KM is intense, people typically cry, get goosebumps, have a warm or other feeling in the center of the chest, or get choked up. They make take a deep breath or say awww. KM is a very positive experience that people seek out and eagerly share with other CS partners. Consequently, a great many institutions, practices, narratives, and artifacts have culturally evolved to evoke KM; they are prominent in a great many diverse cultures across history. KM is easy to evoke in the lab. One set of participants’ averaged moment-to-moment judgments of the closeness of characters in a video predict with astounding precision four other sets of participants’ averaged moment-to-moment self-reports of being moved or touched, tears, warm feelings in the chest, and goosebumps.
The dual nature of utility
The "rational model" and the behavioral definition of utility as a “revealed preference” are the building blocks of neoclassic economics. These assumptions, however, have led to various anomalies that have frequently been demonstrated by behavioral economists. While these results are interesting, they lack a coherent conceptual framework that allows generating explanations and predictions that go beyond the experimental situation. In the present talk, we attempt to fill this conceptual gap and present a model that is meant to provide a psychological grounding of economic utility. Specifically, we suggest that judgments of utility are based on two components that differ in their underlying psychological mechanisms. In detail, we propose a categorical type of utility (uCat) that is determined by a pre-evaluated end state or the quality of an experience and follows the satisficing principle and a comparative type of utility (uCom) that transcends the absolute quality of the outcome, and depends on the relation to various standards. Unlike uCat, uCom is driven by the maximization principle and the need for self-esteem. In this talk we shall outline these concepts and illustrate their implications for economic theorizing with some experimental findings from the ultimatum game.
Effects of individual social motives and relational models on motivation and work satisfaction
We report two studies on the motivational effects of different relational models in work teams and on the interplay of relational models and individual social motives on work-related outcomes. In Study 1, dyads engaged in an idea generation task. We manipulated relational models between dyads by instructing subjects to organize their team interactions either according to communal sharing (CS), authority ranking (AR), or market pricing (MP) principles. The content of their ideas was scored according to the motivational themes of affiliation, power, and achievement. In line with our hypotheses, we found that affiliation content was highest in CS dyads and achievement content was highest in MP dyads. Although power content was most pronounced in AR dyads, the effect was not significant. Study 2 was an online survey on the joint effects of relational models and individual motives on work satisfaction and perceived team performance. Employees indicated their individual motives for intimacy, power, and achievement as well as the degrees of CS, AR, and MP in their current work teams. As predicted, we found significant interaction effects of the corresponding motives and relational models on both satisfaction with the current work team and subjective team performance. Our findings suggest that instructing teams to interact according to certain basic relational models leads to an emphasis on corresponding motivational themes; and that perceived team relational models interact with individual motives to predict subjective experience in team work.
The intensity of behavioral restraint
I will discuss research from my laboratory concerned with determinants and cardiovascular correlates of behavioral restraint, that is, active resistance against behavioral impulses. The research is guided heavily by Brehm’s motivation intensity theory, which identifies conditions under which performers will engage more and less vigorously in goal pursuit. It also is guided by (1) elaborations from that formulation pertaining to ability and fatigue, and (2) an active coping hypothesis that posits an intimate link between effortful engagement and cardiovascular adjustment. New findings combine with old ones to support an emergent model of self-regulatory control.