Me against myself: motivational conflicts and emotional development in adulthood

Psychol Aging. 2008 Sep;23(3):479-494. doi: 10.1037/a0013302.


Two studies investigated adult age differences in the frequency and emotional consequences of motivational conflicts (i.e., feeling that one wants to or should do something else in a given situation). Study 1 compared younger and older adults. Study 2 included a more age-heterogeneous sample ranging from 20 to 70 years. Data were obtained using diary and experience-sampling methods. Multilevel regression showed that motivational conflict was associated with lower emotional well-being. With age, the frequency of motivational conflict decreased, while emotional well-being increased. Importantly, the age-related decrease in motivational conflicts partly accounted for the age-related increase in emotional well-being. Findings were consistent across studies and robust after the authors controlled for age differences in a number of control variables including time use. The authors conclude that an age-related decrease in motivational conflicts in daily life may be among the factors underlying the positive development of emotional well-being into older adulthood.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation*
  • Psychometrics