Maintaining Activity Engagement: Individual Differences in the Process of Self-Regulating Motivation


  • We thank Kenneth Barron, Carolyn Morf, and Paul White for their helpful comments on a previous version of this manuscript.

concerning this article may be sent to: Carol Sansone, Department of Psychology, University of Utah, 380 South 1530 East, Room 502, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Typically, models of self-regulation include motivation in terms of goals. Motivation is proposed to differ among individuals as a consequence of the goals they hold as well as how much they value those goals and expect to attain them. We suggest that goal-defined motivation is only one source of motivation critical for sustained engagement. A second source is the motivation that arises from the degree of interest experienced in the process of goal pursuit. Our model integrates both sources of motivation within the goal-striving process and suggests that individuals may actively monitor and regulate them. Conceptualizing motivation in terms of a self-regulatory process provides an organizing framework for understanding how individuals might differ in whether they experience interest while working toward goals, whether they persist without interest, and whether and how they try to create interest. We first present the self-regulation of motivation model and then review research illustrating how the consideration of individual differences at different points in the process allows a better understanding of variability in people's choices, efforts, and persistence over time.