A structural model of intrinsic motivation: On the psychology of means-ends fusion

Arie W. Kruglanski, Ayelet Fishbach, Kaitlin Woolley, Jocelyn J. Bélanger, Marina Chernikova, Erica Molinario, Antonio Pierro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The term intrinsic motivation refers to an activity being seen as its own end. Accordingly, we conceptualize intrinsic motivation (IM) as (perceived) means-ends fusion and define an intrinsicality continuum reflecting the degree to which such fusion is experienced. Our means-ends fusion (MEF) theory assumes four major antecedents of activity-goal fusion: (a) repeated pairing of the activity and the goal, (b) uniqueness of the activity-goal connection, (c) perceived similarity between the activity and its goal, and (d) temporal immediacy of goal attainment following the activity. MEF theory further identifies two major consequences of the activity-goal fusion (i.e., manifestations of intrinsic motivation): (a) perceived instrumentality of the activity to goal attainment and consequent activity engagement, and (b) goal-related affective experience of the activity. Empirical evidence for MEF theory comes from diverse fields of psychological inquiry, including animal learning, brain research, and social cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Fusion
  • Goals
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Means

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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