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IACM 2023

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The Relationship Between Willpower and Intrinsic Motivation

We examine the association between an individual’s intrinsic motivation and their choice of self-control strategy. We first find that people hold a lay belief that intrinsically motivated individuals are more likely to use willpower over other (external) strategies to achieve their goals. Yet we also find that this lay association is not true in practice; individuals higher on intrinsic motivation were no more likely to actually use willpower over other strategies compared to individuals lower on intrinsic motivation. These findings have organizational implications for goal achievement and impression management with respect to hiring, task assignment and promotion.

Ariella Kristal
Columbia Business School

Julian Zlatev
Harvard Business School
United States


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