Heinz Heckhausen

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Heinz Heckhausen (born March 24, 1926 in Barmen ; † October 30, 1988 ) was a German psychologist and university professor who dealt with the processes of motivation to act .


Heinz Heckhausen was born as the son of the textile merchant Max Heckhausen and his wife and studied psychology at the University of Münster from 1947 to 1954 as a scholarship holder of the German National Academic Foundation . He received his doctorate in 1954 from the Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Metzger on the motivational analysis of the level of aspiration in the scientific tradition of Kurt Lewin . From 1953 to 1962 he was Metzger's research assistant at the University of Münster. He completed his habilitation in 1962.


From 1964 to 1982 Heckhausen was professor of psychology at the University of Bochum and head of the institute. He was one of the few German motivation researchers with a national and international profile.

He was particularly interested in achievement motivation and its development in childhood. His Extended Cognitive Motivation Model was influential both for basic research and for use in schools and the world of work. In the last phase of his life, inspired by Julius Kuhl , he turned to the topic of volition and, guided by his Rubicon model of the phases of action , explored the change from motivation to volition. After his early death, this work was continued by his student Peter Gollwitzer and has since been taken up by many motivational researchers. His book Motivation and Action (1980, 1989), which his daughter Jutta Heckhausen (* 1957; professor at the University of Irvine, California , USA) re-published in 2005 with the collaboration of Heinz Heckhausen's former colleagues, had a major influence on research and teaching .

From 1982 onwards, Heckhausen headed the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich , which he was involved in founding alongside Franz Emanuel Weinert .

Heckhausen formula

The Heckhausen formula should represent the motivational factors: Motl = (LM * E * Ae) + As + N + [bld + bZust + bAbh + bGelt + bStrafv].

Motl = motivation to learn LM = motivation to achieve: determined behavior in dealing with a standard of quality; E = degree of attainability of the performance target set in the learning situation for the individual student (experienced success probability in%); Ae = incentive for tasks; As = subject-related incentive; N = news content of a presented subject matter; bId = need to identify with the adult role model; bZust = need for approval, positive feedback; bAbh = need for dependence on adults; bGelt = need for recognition and recognition in the eyes of the teacher and / or classmates; bStrafv = need to avoid punishment.

From a pedagogical and didactic perspective, it was Heckhausen's merit to point out that on the part of the teachers, the accessibility of a goal, the incentive of the task and the novelty of information are the most important factors.


From 1980 to 1982 Heckhausen was President of the German Society for Psychology and from 1985 to 1987 Chairman of the German Science Council.


  • 1981: Honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo .
  • 1988: Award of the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st class.

Heinz Heckhausen Young Scientist Prize

The German Society for Psychology has awarded the Heinz Heckhausen Young Scientists Prize every two years since 1982.

Fonts (selection)

  • 1967 The Anatomy of achievement motivation. Academic Press, New York
  • 1974 motivational research. Volume 2. Achievement and Equal Opportunities. (Ed.) Göttingen: Verlag für Psychologie.
  • 1980 motivational research. Volume 9. Ability and Motivation in Unexpected School Performance. (Ed.) Göttingen: Verlag für Psychologie
  • 1980 motivation and action . Textbook of motivational psychology. Springer, Berlin ISBN 3540098119 (wide. Editions 1985 to 2010), 4th, revised. and exp. Edition by Jutta Heckhausen, Springer, Berlin & Heidelberg 2010 ISBN 978-3-642-12692-5
  • 1987 with PM Gollwitzer & FE Weinert (ed.): Jenseits des Rubikon. The will in the human sciences. Springer, Berlin ISBN 3540173730 or ISBN 0387173730
  • List of publications and curriculum vitae by Heinz Heckhausen (PDF 1.7 MB)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Werner Stangl: Learning motivation. In: https://lexikon.stangl.eu/4496/lernmotivation-ist/ . Retrieved August 9, 2020 .
  2. see the 2008 award ceremony with an overview of previous winners Archive link ( Memento of the original from February 10, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved December 8, 2012 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.dgps.de