Skip to main content

Nelli Hankonen: Social psychology of motivation and becoming motivated

Published on 14.6.2022
Tampere University
Nelli Hankonen is Professor of Social Psychology at the Faculty of Social Sciences. She is interested in behavioral change, particularly from the perspective of the promotion of wellbeing.

According to Hankonen, the difference between intention and action is a widely researched phenomenon in social psychology. Her research has, among other things, focused on the type of instruction that would best encourage youths to increase their physical activity.

– Motivation is not something that is poured in from the outside, and it is instead up to the instructor to create conditions where autonomous motivation can grow from within. The experience of autonomy can, for example, be supported by providing meaningful grounds for action, offering options, and avoiding coercive word choices, such as “now you have to” or “now you must”.

According to the self-determination theory, we all have three basic psychological needs whose fulfilment impacts the quality of motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomous motivation has been found to lead to actions that are more persistent and of higher quality.

With her team, Hankonen has also researched what methods could be used to train specialists in practices that support the creation of motivational environments.

– Applied and basic research are not diametrically opposite pursuits; science also benefits from projects conducted in the practical real world. I therefore believe that in the future we will be able to utilize research data and our methods that produce better human understanding in an increasingly effective manner in social practices. Social psychology has much to contribute here.

Nelli Hankonen's contact information