3K-Modell (Psychologie) - 3K-Modell (Psychologie)

The 3K model of motivation (“3K” stands for the “three components of motivation”) was developed by Professor Hugo M. Kehr at the University of California at Berkeley . [1] The 3K model is an empirically supported, integrative motivation theory that can be used for the systematic diagnosis and intervention in case of motivation deficits.

Basic assumptions

Illustration of the three components of the 3K model: head, stomach and hand.

The three components head, stomach and hand

“3K” stands for the three components of motivation , which are shown as partially overlapping circles (see Fig. 1). In technical terms, the three components are called explicit (self-assessed) motives , implicit (unconscious) motives and subjective abilities. In practical use, the metaphors “ head ”, “ belly ” and “ handstand for this .

  • Head stands for the rational intentions, our goals and the willingness to carry out a certain action.
  • Belly stands for the emotional area, for the fun and joy associated with an action; for the often unconscious needs and motives that lie behind them; but also for fears and stomach pains.
  • Hand represents the skills, knowledge, and experience that an action requires

Interaction of the three components

When the components head and stomach are fulfilled, then there is intrinsic motivation . You are highly concentrated and enjoy doing what you set out to do. It is irrelevant whether the hand component is also fulfilled or not: You can be intrinsically motivated even with tasks where you (still) lack the necessary skills.

The optimal motivation is given when all three components are fulfilled (this corresponds to the intersection of all three circles in the figure above). Here the actor is intrinsically motivated and also has the necessary skills. This state is often experienced as a flow . If, on the other hand, one of the two components, stomach or head, is not fulfilled, so there are unpleasant "gut feelings" or if you do not stand behind it from the head, it is difficult to implement your own intentions: you stand in your own way. This state is often experienced as " lack of motivation ". If the action is nevertheless to be carried out, the will is needed for supportthat suppresses annoying gut feelings or doubts. Such a willful fight against displeasure and doubt can be successful in the short term - but it costs strength and can lead to overcontrol and health problems in the long term.

Two types of will can be distinguished: [2] [3] Type 1 will is required for tasks that appear to be important and expedient from the head, but which are not supported by the gut. This is the case, for example, when important but unpleasant tasks have to be completed. Type 2 will, on the other hand, is required when a certain action is supported by the stomach but not supported by the head. Such situations are often experienced as temptation or fear.

If the hand component is not fulfilled, problem-solving mechanisms are needed to compensate for the lack of skills, e.g. B. by seeking help from others.

Application of the 3K model

In practical application, for example in self-management [4] [5] , in coaching [6] , in leadership training [7] and in change management [8] , the 3K model can be used for systematic diagnosis and intervention in case of motivation deficits.

Practical application of the 3K model: motivational diagnosis. MA = employee.

Motivational diagnosis

In practice, it is advisable to diagnose the fulfillment of the three motivational components with the help of the so-called 3K test. Questions that can be asked about this include (see Fig. 2)

  • Head : "Do I find this activity really important?"
  • Belly : "Do I enjoy doing this job?"
  • Hand : "Can I do this job well?"

The answers to these questions determine which support measures should be taken (see Fig. 3).


Practical application of the 3K model: intervention in case of motivation deficits.

The intervention measures resulting from the 3K test can best be illustrated with an example. Assume that a manager has carried out a 3K test with their sales representative in the context of an employee interview with regard to conducting sales talks using appropriate interview guidelines.

If the 3K test shows that this activity is supported by the head and stomach components, but not by the hand component (this corresponds to area A in Fig. 3), then it should first be clarified in an in-depth discussion whether only the subjective or the objective abilities are missing. If there is a lack of objective skills (if, for example, the employee is not yet familiar with the interview guidelines used or the calculation bases), depending on the specific case, measures such as coaching, training or collegial advice are available. Sometimes the part of the task for which the skills are missing could also be done by a colleague. However, is it only the subjective skills that the employee lacks,

Perhaps the 3K test also reveals a lack of support from the head component (this corresponds to area B in Fig. 3): The employee may not be convinced that the suggested discussion guidelines are really effective, or she thinks other sales channels are more suitable. In this case, it is important to create the necessary cognitive support. This can be done, for example, through conviction, through the targeted setting of extrinsic incentives (e.g. a bonus payment) or through the resolution of established target conflicts through the reprioritization of goals.

But what if the 3K test shows that the head and hand components are fulfilled, but not the stomach component (this corresponds to area C in Fig. 3)? So what if the employee considers her job to be important and expedient, and if both she and her manager are convinced that she has the necessary skills?

Here z. For example, it is conceivable that she does not feel like having conversations using a conversation guide, that the idea of ​​having to visit strangers at home gives her "stomach ache", or that, like many sales employees, she is afraid of a possible no from the customer. The manager is well advised not to ignore the lack of support from the gut, but to look for feasible solutions together with the employee. An attempt could be made to set new motivational incentives or to redesign the task in such a way that it is also supported by the stomach component. Kehr and von Rosenstiel [5] refer to this as “metamotivation”. For example, is the connection motiveThe employee is very pronounced, so she could perhaps be assigned mainly uncomplicated, friendly customers, or the sales talks could be managed in a team. It would also be conceivable to jointly develop a personal vision that matches the employee's motives. If these measures are fruitful, they stimulate the stomach component and help to effectively avoid the motivational barriers to action. [9] If not, then it should be remembered that the manager advises her employee on which volitional strategies she can most effectively overcome her motivational barriers to action. Kehr and von Rosenstiel [5]call this "metavolition". It would be advisable, for example, to reduce overcontrol (e.g. negative fantasies, suppression of temptation, exaggerated tendency to plan) and instead motivate yourself through reframing (positive fantasies) or to change aversive framework conditions, for example by holding the sales talks in a neutral location.

If the 3K test shows that all three components have already been fulfilled (this corresponds to the overlap area of ​​all three circles in Fig. 3), then the manager can delegate the task to their employee with a clear conscience and rely on their self-management. However, it is also advisable to keep in contact with the employee in order to B. to be informed about aversive framework conditions or a changed motivation situation and to be able to initiate appropriate support measures. In this case, the manager should also think about how the obviously highly motivated employee can be optimally developed in the future.

Scientific background


The 3K model was originally referred to as the “compensation model for work motivation and volition”. [1] The name should indicate that volition (will) compensates for lack of or insufficient motivation , a central model assumption. However, since this led to confusion with “worker compensation”, the name of the model was changed to “3K model”. The 3K model was created from the integration of various motivational concepts. The postulation of three independent motivational components in the 3K model is based on McClelland's [10] [11] distinction between “motives, skills, and values”. The 3K model combines this three-way division with approaches to volition [12] [13], intrinsic motivation [14] and flow [15] .

Ruth Kanfer , a renowned expert on work motivation , describes the 3K model resulting from this integration as a “radical, complementary and new paradigm” ( Applied Psychology , 2005, p. 190). [16]

Empirical research

The 3K model has stimulated extensive empirical research, including at LMU Munich, UC Berkeley, MGSM in Sydney and TUM (Technical University of Munich). An overview of the research on the 3K model can be found in Kehr (2014) [3] . The key findings are:

  • Certain parenting styles promote the development of discrepancies between the head and the stomach, so-called motive discrepancies . [17]
  • Discrepancies between head and stomach reduce well-being [2] and lead to burnout [18] .
  • Discrepancies between the head and the stomach use up willpower. [19] [2]
  • Fear motives , e.g. B. Fear of rejection, decrease willpower and well-being. [20]
  • Flow arises from the fulfillment of all three components of the 3K model. [21] [22]


  • Kehr, H. M. (2004). Integrating implicit motives, explicit motives, and perceived abilities: The compensatory model of work motivation and volition. Academy of Management Review, 29(3), 479–499.
  • Kehr, HM (2014). The 3K model of motivation. In J. Felfe (Ed.), Psychology for Personnel Management: Vol. 27. Trends in psychological leadership research. New concepts, methods and findings (pp. 103–116). Göttingen: Hogrefe, ISBN 978-3-8409-2618-1 .


Individual evidence

  1. a b Kehr, H. M. (2004a). Integrating implicit motives, explicit motives, and perceived abilities: The compensatory model of work motivation and volition. Academy of Management Review, 29(3), 479–499.
  2. a b c Kehr, H. M. (2004b). Implicit/explicit motive discrepancies and volitional depletion among managers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(3), 315–327. doi:10.1177/0146167203256967
  3. a b Kehr, HM (2014). The 3K model of motivation. In J. Felfe (Ed.), Psychology for Personnel Management: Vol. 27. Trends in psychological leadership research. New concepts, methods and findings (pp. 103–116). Göttingen: Hogrefe.
  4. ^ Kehr, HM (2008). Authentic self-management: exercises to increase motivation and willpower . Beltz-Taschenbuch: Vol. 622. Weinheim: Beltz.
  5. a b c Kehr, H. M., & Von Rosenstiel, L. (2006). Self-Management Training (SMT): Theoretical and empirical foundations for the development of a metamotivational and metavolitional intervention program. In D. H. Frey, H. Mandl, & L. von Rosenstiel (Eds.), Knowledge and action (pp. 103–141). Cambridge, MA: Huber & Hogrefe.
  6. ^ Strasser, M., & Kehr, HM (2012). Promote motivation in a targeted manner. Coaching-Magazin , 13 (1), 38–41.
  7. ^ Kehr, HM (2011). Leadership through motivation: implicit motives, explicit goals and increasing willpower. Personnel management , 4 , 66–71.
  8. ^ Kehr, HM, & Rawolle, M. (2009). Head, stomach and hand - how motivation supports change processes. Business Psychology Current , 2 , 23–26.
  9. Rawolle, M., Schultheiss, O. C., Strasser, A., & Kehr, H. M. (2016). The Motivating Power of Visionary Images: Effects on Motivation, Affect, and Behavior. Journal of Personality.
  10. McClelland, D. C. (1985). How motives, skills, and values determine what people do. American Psychologist, 40(7), 812–825. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.40.7.812
  11. McClelland, D. C., Koestner, R., & Weinberger, J. (1989). How do self-attributed and implicit motives differ? Psychological review, 96(4), 690–702. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.96.4.690
  12. Baumeister, R. F., Muraven, M. & Tice, D. M. (2000). Ego depletion: A resource model of volition, self-regulation, and controlled processing. Social Cognition, 18, 130–150. doi:10.1521/soco.2000.18.2.130
  13. Kuhl, J. (2000). A functional-design approach to motivation and self-regulation: The dynamics of personality systems interactions. In M. Boekaerts, P.R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Regulation (pp. 111-169). San Diego: Academic Press.
  14. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 54-67.
  15. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety: The experience of play in work and games. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  16. Kanfer, R. (2005). Self‐Regulation Research in Work and I/O Psychology. Applied Psychology, 54(2), 186-191.
  17. Schattke, K., Koestner, R., & Kehr, H. M. (2011). Childhood correlates of adult levels of incongruence between implicit and explicit motives. Motivation and Emotion, 35(3), 306-316.
  18. Rawolle, M., Wallis, M. S., Badham, R., & Kehr, H. M. (2016). No fit, no fun: The effect of motive incongruence on job burnout and the mediating role of intrinsic motivation. Personality and Individual Differences, 89, 65-68.
  19. Gröpel, P., & Kehr, H. M. (2014). Motivation and self-control: Implicit motives moderate the exertion of self‐control in motive-related tasks. Journal of Personality, 82(4), 317–328. doi:10.1111/jopy.12059
  20. Kehr, HM (2004c). Motivation and volition: functional analyzes, field studies with executives and development of self-management training (SMT) . Göttingen: Hogrefe.
  21. Schiepe-Tiska, A. (2013). In the power of flow: The impact of implicit and explicit motives on flow experience with a special focus on the power domain (Doctoral dissertation, Technische Universität München).
  22. Schattke, K., Brandstätter, V., Taylor, G., & Kehr, HM (2015). Perceived performance incentives moderate the positive influence of achievement motive congruence on the flow experience in indoor climbing. Journal of Sports Psychology, 22 , 20-33.