Daniel Molden Associate Professor; Director of Social Psychology

Program Area(s):



The role of motivation in social cognition

Research Interests

One of my main interests is the ways in which people’s motivations (i.e., their needs, desires, and goals) can influence their basic cognitive process (i.e., their perception, categorization, and recall of information) and the implications this has for judgment and behavior. Thus far, I have pursued this interest in several different ways. The first involves examining how people’s preferences for using certain types of judgment strategies that “feel right” to them can affect the impressions they form of themselves and others. The second involves examining how these preferences affect the coping strategies people use after they experience some kind of threat to the self.

Another one of my main interests is how people’s deeply held, but seldom consciously articulated theories about the social world affect the way they perceive and interpret social information. I have primarily pursued this interest by examining how these "lay theories" can affect the way in which people process information related to other people’s behaviors.


Selected Publications

Pollack, J. M., Forster, W. R., Johnson, P. D., Coy, A., Molden, D. C. (2015). Promotion- and prevention-focused networking and its consequences for entrepreneurial success. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6, 3-12.

Molden, D. C. (2014). Understanding priming effects: What is "social priming" and how does it occur? Social Cognition, 32(Supplement), 1-11.

Molden, D. C. (2014). Understanding priming effects: An overview and integration. Social Cognition, 32(Supplement), 243-249.

Bohns, V. K., SLucas, G. M., Molden, D. C., Finkel, E. J., Coolsen, M. K., Kumashiro, M., Rusbult, C. E., Higgins, E. T. (2013). Opposites fit: Regulatory focus complementarity and relationship well-being. Social Cognition, 31, 1-14.

Hui, C. M., Molden, D. C., & Finkel, E. J. (2013). Loving freedom: Concerns with promotion or prevention and the role of autonomy in relationship well- being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 61-85.

Molden, D. C. (2013). An expanded perspective on the role of effort phenomenology in motivation and performance. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 699-700.

Molden, D. C., Hui, C. M., Scholer, A., Meier, B., Noreen, E., D'Agostino, P, & SMartin, V. (2012). The motivational versus metabolic effects of glucose on self-regulation. Psychological Science, 23, 1137-1144.

Hui, C. M., Bond, M. H., & Molden, D. C. (2012). Why do(n’t) your partner’s efforts at self-improvement make you happy? An implicit theories perspective. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 101- 113.

Lisjak, M., Molden, D. C., & Lee, A. Y. (2012). Primed interference: The cognitive and behavioral costs of incongruence between chronic and primed motivational orientations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 889-909.

Molden, D. C. (2012). Motivated strategies for judgment: How preferences for particular judgment processes can affect judgment outcomes. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 156-169.

Molden, D. C., & Hui, C. M. (2011). Promoting de-escalation of commitment: A regulatory focus perspective on sunk costs. Psychological Science, 22, 8-12.

Murphy, M. C., Richeson, J. A., & Molden, D. C. (2011). Leveraging motivational mindsets to foster positive interracial interactions. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5, 118-131.

Todd, A. R., Molden, D. C, Haam, J., & Vonk, R. (2011) The co-occurring and automatic activation of multiple social inferences. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 41, 37-49.

Miele, D. B., Finn, B., & Molden, D. C. (2011). Does easily learned mean easily remembered? It depends on your beliefs about intelligence. Psychological Science, 22, 320-324.

Miele, D. B., & Molden, D. C. (2010). Naive theories of intelligence and the role of processing fluency in perceived comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 139, 535-557.

Knowles, M., Lucas, G. M., Molden, D. C., Gardner, W. L., & Dean, K. K. (2010). There’s no substitute for belonging: Self-affirmation following social and non-social threats, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 173-186.

Lucas, G. M., Knowles, M. L., Gardner, W. L., Molden, D. C., and Jefferis, V. E. (2010). Increasing social engagement among lonely individuals: The role of acceptance cues and promotion motivations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1346-1359.

Molden, D. C., & Finkel, E. J. (2010). Motivations for promotion and prevention and the role of trust and commitment in interpersonal forgiveness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 255-268.

Miele, D. B., Molden, D. C., & Gardner, W. L. (2009). Motivated comprehension regulation: Vigilant versus eager metacognitive control. Memory & Cognition, 37, 779-795. molden-regulation.pdf

Molden, D. C. (2009). Finding meaning in others’ intentions: The process of judging intentional behaviors and intentionality itself. Psychological Inquiry, 20, 37-43. molden-intentionality.pdf

Molden, D. C., Lucas, G. M., Finkel, E. J., Kumashiro, M., & Rusbult, C. E. (2009). Perceived support for promotion-focused and prevention-focused goals: Associations with well-being in unmarried and marriedcouples. Psychological Science, 20, 787-793. molden-support.pdf

Molden, D. C., Lucas, G. M., Gardner, W. L., Dean, K., & Knowles, M. (2009). Motivations for prevention or promotion following social exclusion. Being rejected versus being ignored. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 415-431. molden-rejected.pdf

Dweck, C. S., & Molden, D. C. (2008). Self-Theories: The Construction of Free Will. In J. Baer, J. C. Kaufman, & R. F. Baumeister (Eds.) Psychology and free will (pp. 44-64). New York: Oxford University Press.

Molden, D. C., & Higgins, E. T. (2008) How preferences for eager versus vigilant judgment strategies affect self-serving outcomes, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1219-1228. molden-preferences.pdf

Molden, D. C., Lee, A. Y., & Higgins, E. T. (2008). Motivations for promotion and prevention. In J. Shah & W. Gardner (Eds.) Handbook of motivation science (pp. 169-187). New York: Guilford Press. molden-motivations.pdf

Molden, D. C. & Miele, D. B. (2008). The origins and influences of promotion-focused and prevention-focused achievement motivations. In M. Maehr, S. Karabenick, & T. Urdan (Eds.), Advances in motivation and  Achievement: Social psychological perspectives (Vol. 15, pp. 81-118).  Bingley, Wales: Emerald. molden-origins.pdf

Sivanathan, N., Molden, D. C., Galinsky, A.D., & Ku, G. (2008). The promise and peril of self-affirmation in de-escalation of commitment. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 107, 1-14.


Molden, D. C., & Dweck, C. S. (2006). Finding “meaning” in psychology: A lay theories approach to self-regulation, social perception, and social development. American Psychologist, 61, 192-203. molden-meaning.pdf

Molden, D. C., Plaks, J. E., & Dweck, C. S. (2006). “Meaningful” social inferences: Lay theories and inferential processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 738-752. molden-processes.pdf

Molden, D. C., & Higgins, E. T. (2005). Motivated Thinking. In K. Holyoak, & B. Morrison (Eds.) Handbook of thinking and reasoning (pp. 295-320). New York: Cambridge University Press. molden-thinking.pdf