Motivated Thinking

Daniel C Molden*, E. Tory Higgins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199968718
ISBN (Print)9780199734689
StatePublished - Nov 21 2012


  • Accuracy motivations
  • Need for belonging
  • Need for closure
  • Need for control
  • Regulatory fit
  • Regulatory focus
  • Regulatory mode
  • Self-enhancement motivations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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