Mike Prentice

Mike Prentice
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems | IS · Rationality Enhancement

PhD

About

45
Publications
19,560
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836
Citations

Publications

Publications (45)
Article
Full-text available
In this introductory article we first describe the impetus for this special issue. What made us think that Self-Determination Theory (SDT) might provide a sort of foundation for the rest of personality psychology? For readers unfamiliar with SDT, we then provide a historical overview which covers the evolution of the six “mini-theories” that curren...
Article
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We used a new methodology for assessing change motivation (Hudson and Fraley 2015, 2016) to test the hypothesis that striving to improve one’s hedonic well-being fails in its aim, whereas striving to improve one’s eudaimonic functioning succeeds. In three studies, participant goals to increase subjective well-being (SWB) were negatively correlated...
Article
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We investigate the long-standing yet understudied assumption that feeling moral is a basic psychological need, perhaps like the needs to feel autonomous, competent, and related (ACR). We report an empirical “entrance exam” on whether morality should be considered a need. Specifically, we applied to morality a pioneering method from which Sheldon an...
Article
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We explore and explicate some promising points of integration between Self‐Determination Theory (SDT: Ryan & Deci, 2000) and Whole Trait Theory (WTT; Fleeson & Jayawickreme, 2015). Integrating SDT and WTT can offer an example for navigating challenges that have long confronted integrating trait‐descriptive and motivational‐explanatory views of pers...
Preprint
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People’s intentional pursuit of prosocial goals and values (i.e., well-doing) is critical to the flourishing of humanity in the long run. But some of the most socially-beneficial pursuits are often neglected because they are unintuitive. To choose such pursuits people have to apply critical thinking and far-sighted decision-making in the service of...
Article
Full-text available
People’s intentional pursuit of prosocial goals and values (i.e., well-doing) is critical to the flourishing of humanity in the long run. Understanding and promoting well-doing is a shared goal across many fields inside and outside of social and personality psychology. Several of these fields are (partially) disconnected from each other and could b...
Conference Paper
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Human cognition is fundamentally goal-directed (Carver & Scheier, 2001), and there are still many open questions about the cognitive mechanisms of goal-setting and how they affect the quality of people’s goals (Kasser & Ryan, 1996). Here, we study in an exploratory way how goals set through deliberate reflection about the future (prospection) diffe...
Article
Although moral character may be the most central and consequential facet of one’s personality, existing measures are few and suffer from shortcomings. We present the Moral Character Questionnaire (MCQ) to focus primarily on global moral character and secondarily on six moral domains – Honesty, Compassion, Fairness, Loyalty, Respect, and Purity. All...
Preprint
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Negative emotions can make maladaptive behavior more likely, especially when people have poor emotion regulation and metacognitive skills (ERMSs). We developed an app to help non-clinical populations train and apply good ERMSs. The app teaches ERMSs with the help of gamified features such as customizable emotion avatars and points for practicing ER...
Preprint
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The purpose of the present studies was to identify an effective tool for helping people to select virtuous life goals that promote their own well-being and contribute to the well-being of others (well-doing). Across two studies, we tested four candidate interventions against each other and a control condition. In the first study (N = 218), the inte...
Preprint
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How motivated a person is to pursue a goal may depend on many different properties of the goal, such as how specific it is, how important it is to the person, and how actionable it is. Rigorously measuring all of the relevant goal characteristics is still very difficult. Existing measures are scattered across multiple research fields. Some goal cha...
Preprint
Full-text available
People's intentional pursuit of prosocial goals and values (i.e., well-doing) is critical to the flourishing of humanity in the long run. But some of the most socially beneficial pursuits are neglected because they are unintuitive. To choose such pursuits people have to apply critical thinking and far-sighted decision-making in the service of the l...
Preprint
Full-text available
Life improvement science is the scientific pursuit of knowledge that is useful for increasing the quality and quantity of thoughts and actions that benefit the well-being of humanity in the long run. What are the goals of life improvement science? The overarching goal of life improvement science is to gain scientific insights that are useful for mo...
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is to (i) review and to organize the individual differences that have been explicitly proposed to explain or describe individual differences in moral behavior, (ii) review the work on dynamics of those individual differences, and (iii) consider the value of the morally exceptional for elucidating such dynamics. Many cons...
Preprint
Full-text available
We tested two reflection techniques derived from Acceptance Commitment Therapy for helping people set life goals that are self-determined, communal, and future-minded. Participants were assigned randomly to control, Eulogy, or the Valued Living Questionnaire (VLQ) conditions. Eulogy participants envisioned what they wanted people to say about them...
Preprint
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The translation of abstract, long-term goals, such as "make a contribution to the field of motivation science," into short-term, actionable intentions is inherently difficult. Hierarchical goal-setting, a goal-setting strategy in which people construct a hierarchy of increasingly more concrete and proximal subgoals is a promising way to support thi...
Preprint
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We propose a list of 20 grand challenges for the first 15 years of life improvement science. We invite you to comment on the proposed challenges and suggest additional challenges at https://docs.google.com/document/d/11Yte2Uf9T5-JZdyiAYEc7KpapwaHD69MetM2gcpcs8w/edit?usp=sharing
Article
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Do people really have a psychological need to be moral? We present results from an experience sampling study of momentary moral need satisfaction, moral behaviors, and psychological thriving, which also provided an opportunity to test whether the moral need functions differently in people of high vs. low moral character. Results were that moral nee...
Article
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Ethics education is a requirement in undergraduate engineering education, but evidence suggests that there is a limited improvement, and perhaps even diminishment, in moral commitments and capacities in engineering students during college. In the present paper, we gauge the current state of ethics education and identify opportunities for improvemen...
Article
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We studied how people “cross the Rubicon” when making personal goal selections. In Studies 1 and 2 participants rated the self-concordance of four candidate goals, two with intrinsic and two with extrinsic content, before selecting two goals to actually pursue. Intrinsic goal content predicted higher self-concordance, as did matching between goal c...
Article
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Healthy democracies require civic engagement (e.g., voting) from their citizens. Past research has suggested that civic engagement is positively associated with self-transcendence values of care and concern for the welfare of others, and negatively associated with self-enhancement values of self interest, dominance and personal success. However, re...
Article
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Two research objectives underlay the present research. First, we tested how frustrated psychological needs caused by the refugee‐influx influence the endorsement and selection of refugee‐relevant information. Second, we tested how information selection processes contribute to the development of exclusionary attitudes that counteract the integratio...
Article
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Individual differences that might moderate processes of value shifting during and after deliberating one's own death remain largely unexplored. Two studies measured participants' openness and relative intrinsic to extrinsic value orientation (RIEVO) before randomly assigning them to conditions in which they wrote about their own death or dental pai...
Article
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The hypothesis that people respond to reminders of mortality with closed-minded, ethnocentric attitudes has received extensive empirical support, largely from research in the Terror Management Theory (TMT) tradition. However, the basic motivational and neural processes that underlie this effect remain largely hypothetical. According to recent neuro...
Article
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A new set of hypotheses is presented regarding the cause of aggressive religious radicalization (ARR). It is grounded in classic and contemporary theory of human motivation and goal regulation, together with recent empirical advances in personality, social, and neurophysiological psychology. We specify personality traits, threats, and group afforda...
Article
Some individuals feel strong conviction and interest in pursuing personal goals, and minimal pressure and compulsion (i.e., they feel more “self-concordant” in their goal pursuits). Sheldon and colleagues argue that this is because their goals well match their implicit personalities (Sheldon, Pers Soc Psychol Rev 18:349–365, 2014). We evaluated thi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Integrating early social psychological theory and data with evolutionary theory proved difficult due to an apparent paradox: Humans are deeply cooperative in everyday situations, but how can this be so if Darwinian imperatives necessitate competition? In this chapter, we review research and theory that combines evolutionary ideas with observations...
Article
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ABSTRACT We test whether people with a relatively more intrinsic vs. extrinsic value orientation (RIEVO) are particularly likely to enact cooperative behavior in resource dilemmas when they are primed with relatedness goals. In Study 1, high RIEVO participants primed with relatedness exhibited more restrained fishing behavior in a resource dilemma...
Article
Objective The present studies examined whether implicit or explicit autonomy dispositions moderate the relationship between felt autonomy and well-being.Method Study 1 (N = 187 undergraduate students) presents an initial test of the moderator hypothesis by predicting flow experience from the interaction of autonomy need-satisfaction and autonomy di...
Chapter
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This chapter will provide an overview of some of our research on meaning-related motivational processes. We outline our Reactive Approach Motivation theory, which offers a goal-regulation perspective on anxiety and meaning regulation. We suggest that both day-to-day and significant life uncertainties exhibit their effects because they create motiva...
Article
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Mindfulness and flow are both beneficial states of mind, but are they difficult to experience simultaneously? After all, flow involves losing self-awareness within an activity, and mindfulness involves maintaining self-awareness throughout or even despite an activity. In three studies, we examine this potential antagonism, finding negative associat...
Article
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Two conceptions of psychological needs predominate within contemporary motivational science. Motive disposition theory conceives of needs as behavioral motives which direct behavior (needs-as-motives), while self-determination theory conceives of needs as universally required experiences for optimal functioning (needs-as-requirements). Until recent...
Article
Reactive Approach Motivation (RAM) theory proposes that the personal uncertainty arising from motivational conflict causes anxiety, and that anxiety draws people to extremes because extremes activate approach‐motivated states that automatically downregulate anxiety. Five new studies consolidate existing evidence for the RAM view of uncertainty‐rela...
Article
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Neural processes that support individual differences in attachment security and affect regulation are currently unclear. Using electroencephalography, we examined whether securely attached individuals, compared with insecure individuals, would show a muted neural response to experimentally manipulated distress. Participants completed a reaction tim...
Article
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We propose that in anxious circumstances people are drawn toward idealistic meanings and purposes because ideals efficiently and reliably engage approach motivated states. We present evidence that approach motivation and anxiety are inversely related; that approach motivation and anxiety are positively and negatively associated with meaning in life...
Article
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Four studies investigated a goal regulation view of anxious uncertainty threat (Gray & McNaughton, 2000) and ideological defense. Participants (N = 444) were randomly assigned to have achievement or relationship goals implicitly primed. The implicit goal primes were followed by randomly assigned achievement or relationship threats that have reliabl...
Article
Abstract Ideals and the Power of ReligionReactive Conviction: Certainty and ConsensusAnxious Conflicts Seem Less Urgent and BothersomeReactive Approach Motivation (RAM) as the Basic ProcessReligious ZealPersonality PredispositionsGoal FrustrationInterventionConclusion References
Article
Full-text available
In 3 experiments, participants reacted with religious zeal to anxious uncertainty threats that have caused reactive approach motivation (RAM) in past research (see McGregor, Nash, Mann, & Phills, 2010, for implicit, explicit, and neural evidence of RAM). In Study 1, results were specific to religious ideals and did not extend to merely superstitiou...
Article
This article reviews a Reactive Approach Motivation (RAM) view of compensatory conviction and world view defense that is consistent with the UMM and grounded in the neuropsychology of anxiety. We also report new findings from our lab, cited in the target article, which further illuminate precise triggers of UMM and RAM outcomes. (PsycINFO Database...
Thesis
Full-text available
Early social interactions have been shown again and again to be strong predictors of a number of behaviors through the remainder of the lifespan. There is a good deal of evidence that the development of self-regulation capacities is experience-expectant and has a window of optimal development for which interactions with primary attachment figures a...

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Projects (2)
Project
Rapid scientific and technological advances present unprecedented opportunities for helping people to do good. This manifesto presents a road map for establishing a solid scientific foundation upon which those opportunities can be realized. We review previous work in this area and highlight important open questions about the psychological foundations of well-doing and how they can be improved, supported, and augmented. These questions define a new transdisciplinary research field called life improvement science. Recent advances make it possible to investigate these questions with scientific rigor. Emerging approaches are paving the way towards practical strategies, innovative interventions, and (intelligent) apps for empowering people to reach unprecedented levels of well-doing and flourishing. We propose a tentative list of 20 grand challenges for future work in life improvement science and highlight emerging approaches that can be used to tackle them.
Project
This project examines the antecedents and consequences of being perceived as moral and of moral or prosocial behavior. Some basic questions are: What leads others to believe we are moral? What leads people to carry out moral actions? Do people have a basic need to feel that they are moral? What is the association between morality and psychological thriving? Are there moral exemplars who serve as "beacons" for others?