The role of self-determined motivation in job search: A dynamic approach

Serge P. da Motta Veiga, Allison S. Gabriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Job search is a dynamic self-regulated process during which job seekers need to stay motivated to secure a job. However, past research has taken a relatively static approach to examining motivation during the job search, in addition to ignoring how the quality of one's motivation-ranging from autonomous to controlled- can influence job search processes. Adopting a within-person perspective, the current study extends self-determination theory (SDT) to the job search context to investigate (a) when autonomous and controlled motivations are more or less prevalent and (b) whether they influence job search effort through metacognitive strategies in differing ways depending upon the amount of time elapsed in the search. In a weekly study of new labor market entrants (Level-2 n = 149; Level-1 n = 691), results indicated that autonomous motivation decreased until the midpoint of the job search and then plateaued, whereas controlled motivation remained stable. Results also showed that autonomous motivation had a consistent, positive relation with metacognitive strategies, whereas the relation between controlled motivation and such strategies was negative early in the job search, but became positive as the job search progressed. Finally, the effects of motivation on job search effort occurred via metacognitive strategies differentially depending upon the time elapsed in the search. Combined, we provide a first glimpse into the dynamics of self-determined motivation on job search processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-361
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Effort
  • Job search
  • Metacognitive strategies
  • Self-determination theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of self-determined motivation in job search: A dynamic approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this