Motivated Thinking

Daniel C. Molden and E. Tory Higgins

in The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199734689
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Motivated Thinking

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Once controversial, the idea that people's motivations can influence their cognitions now plays an important role in current research on thinking and reasoning. This chapter describes the effects on cognition of motivations that originate from three separate sources: (a) specific desired conclusions (e.g., perceptions of oneself as successful, loved, or in control); (b) more general desired conclusions (e.g., judgments that are as concise and unambiguous, or as accurate as possible); and (c) preferences for reaching such conclusions using particular types of judgment strategies (e.g., a focus on pursuing opportunities for gain versus protecting against the possibility of loss). Evidence is reviewed for the influence of each of these motivations on a variety of cognitive processes, illustrating that, in addition to being “cognitive misers” whose biases result from limited cognitive-processing capacity, people are “motivated tacticians” whose biases result from preferences for processing information in ways that serve their current motivational concerns.

Keywords: key words: self-enhancement motivations; need for belonging; need for control; accuracy motivations; need for closure; regulatory focus; regulatory mode; regulatory fit

Article.  15385 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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