Implicit theories and motivational focus: Desired future versus present reality

A. Timur Sevincer, Lena Kluge, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People's beliefs concerning their abilities differ. Incremental theorists believe their abilities (e.g., intelligence) are malleable; entity theorists believe their abilities are fixed (Dweck in Mindset: the new psychology of success. Random House, New York, 2007). On the basis that incremental theorists should emphasize improving their abilities for the future, whereas entity theorists should emphasize demonstrating their abilities in the present reality, we predicted that, when thinking about their wishes, compared to entity theorists, incremental theorists focus more toward the desired future than the present reality. We assessed participants' motivational focus using a paradigm that differentiated how much they chose to imagine the desired future versus the present reality regarding an important wish (Kappes et al. in Emotion 11: 1206-1222, 2011). We found the predicted effect by manipulating (Study 1) and measuring implicit theories (Study 2), in the academic (Study 1) and in the sport domain (Study 2).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-46
Number of pages11
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Entity theory
  • Future
  • Incremental theory
  • Motivational focus
  • Reality
  • Self-regulatory thought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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