Get access

Autonomous Motivation, Controlled Motivation, and Goal Progress


  • This study was funded by grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Fonds Québécois de Recherche Sur la Société et la Culture, Quebec (FQRSC) to Richard Koestner and from SSHRC to Luc G. Pelletier. Nancy Otis and Hugo Gagnon were supported by fellowships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

concerning this article may be directed to Richard Koestner, Psychology Department, McGill University, 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue, Montreal, QC, H3A 1B1; E-mail.


ABSTRACT Although the self-concordance of goals has been repeatedly shown to predict better goal progress, recent research suggests potential problems with aggregating autonomous and controlled motivations to form a summary index of self-concordance (Judge, Bono, Erez, & Locke, 2005). The purpose of the present investigation was to further examine the relations among autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and goal progress to determine the relative importance of autonomous motivation and controlled motivation in the pursuit of personal goals. The results of three studies and a meta-analysis indicated that autonomous motivation was substantially related to goal progress whereas controlled motivation was not. Additionally, the relation of autonomous motivation to goal progress was shown to involve implementation planning. Together, the three studies highlight the importance for goal setters of having autonomous motivation and developing implementation plans, especially ones formulated in terms of approach strategies rather than avoidance strategies. The present research suggests that individuals pursuing goals should focus relatively greater attention on enhancing their autonomous motivation rather than reducing their controlled motivation.

Get access to the full text of this article