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Arlen C. Moller

Arlen C. Moller, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology







Life Sciences Building, Room 256D


Ph.D., University of Rochester (2007)
B.A., Cornell University (2000)

Research Interests 

Social networks
Game design
Human motivation
Developing application and advancing theories related to behavioral health and wellness


Arlen Moller received his Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from the University of Rochester (2007) in Rochester, NY. Following the completion of his graduate training, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA from 2007 through 2009. Dr. Moller was a full time faculty member in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University from 2009 through 2012; and continues to maintain a secondary / adjunct faculty appointment there. In August 2012, Dr. Moller joined the Illinois Institute of Technology as an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.

His research is focused on developing applications and advancing theories related to behavioral health and wellness. These health applications often involve leveraging principles from social psychology and human motivation, as well as game design, financial incentives, social networks, and technology. Recently his work has involved encouraging people to exercise more in ways that are more meaningful, more social, more fun, and resultantly, more sustainable.

Another complimentary feature of this research program involves an orientation toward collaboration and cross-disciplinary team science. Compelling empirical evidence suggests that, when done well, team science is more creative, more impactful, and more fun; and support has been found for these principles in his experience, as well. More information and training tools for cross-disciplinary researchers can be found at, a website co-developed with Drs. Spring, Falk-Krzesinski, and the team at NogginLabs, Inc.

Professional Society Memberships 

Selected Publications 


Elliot, A. J., & Moller, A. C. (2003). Performance-approach goals: Good or bad forms of regulation? International Journal of Educational Research39, 339-356.

Moller, A. C., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2006). Self-determination theory and public policy: Improving the quality of consumer decisions without using coercion. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 25, 104-116.

Deci, E. L., La Guardia, J. G., Moller, A. C., Scheiner, M. J., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). On the benefits of giving as well as receiving autonomy support: Mutuality in close friendships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin32, 313-327.

Cury, F., Elliot, A. J., Da Fonseca, D., & Moller, A. C. (2006). The social-cognitive model of achievement motivation and the 2 x 2 achievement goal framework. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology90, 666-679.

Moller, A. C., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). Choice & ego-depletion: A self-determination theory perspective. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1024-1036.

Elliot, A. E., Maier, M., Moller, A. C., Friedman, R., & Meinhardt, J. (2007). Color and psychological functioning: The effect of red on performance attainment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 154-168.

Moller, A. C., Forbes-Jones, E., Hightower, A. D, & Friedman, R. (2008). The influence of preschool classroom sex composition: Boys fare worse in preschool classrooms with more boys. Early Childhood Research Quarterly23, 409-418.

Moller, A. C., Forbes-Jones, E., Hightower, A. D. (2008). Classroom age-composition and developmental change in 70 urban classrooms.Journal of Educational Psychology100, 741-753.

Moller, A. C., Elliot, A. J., Friedman, R. (2008). When competence and love are at stake: Achievement goals and perceived closeness to parents in an achievement context, Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1386-1391.

Moller, A. C., Elliot, A. J., & Maier, M. (2009). Basic hue-meaning associations. Emotion9, 898-902.

Deci, E. L., Friedman, R., Elliot, A. J., Moller, A. C. , & Aarts, H. (2010). Motivational synchronicity: Priming motivational states via exposure to others. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 34-38.

Moller, A. C., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Interpersonal control, dehumanization, and violence: A self-determination theory perspective.Group Processes and Intergroup Relations13, 41-53.

Moller, A. C., Deci, E. L., & Elliot, A. J. (2010). Person-level relatedness and the incremental value of relating. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 754-767.

Knudson, B., Moller, A. C., Spring, B. (2010). How to catalyze learning in the online environment. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39(S1), 1001

Moller, A. C., McFadden, H.G., DeMott, A., Roehrig, M, Spring, B. (2010). Patient preferences in health behavior change. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39(S1), 2061.

Spring, B., Schneider, K., McFadden, H.G., Vaughn, J., Kozak, A. T., Smith, M., Moller, A. C., Epstein, L., Russell, S., DeMott, A., & Hedeker, D. (2010). Make Better Choices (MBC) Study Design: An RCT Testing Optimal Technology-Supported Change in Multiple Diet and Physical Activity Risk Behaviors. BMC Public Health, 10, 586.

Meier, B. P., Moller, A. C., Chen, J., & Riemer-Peltz, M. H. (2011). Embodied real estate: North-South location biases housing preference and pricing. Social Psychological and Personality Science,2(5), 547-553.

Diehl, J. J., Wolf, J., Herlihy, L., & Moller, A. C. (2011). Seeing red: Are colors a window into implicit societal conceptions of the autism spectrum?Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 31(3).

Spring, B., Moller, A. C., Coons, M. (2012). Multiple health behaviours: Overview and implications. Journal of Public Health, 34(S1), i3-i10.

Liu, K., Daviglus, M., Loria, C., Colangelo, L., Spring, B., Moller, A. C., & Lloyd-Jones, D. (2012). Healthy lifestyle through young adulthood and presence of low cardiovascular disease risk profile in middle age.Circulation, 125, 996-1003.

Moller, A.C., McFadden, H. G., Hedeker, D., Spring, B. (2012). Financial motivation undermines maintenance in an intensive diet and activity intervention. Journal of Obesity, 2012, 1-8, doi:10.1155/2012/740519.

Spring, B., Schneider, K., McFadden, H. G., Vaughn, J., Kozak, A. T., Smith, M., Moller, A. C., Epstein, L. H., DeMott, A., Hedeker, D., Siddique, J., Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (2012). Multiple behavior changes in diet and activity: A randomized controlled trial using mobile technology,Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(10), 789-796.

Moller, A. C., McFadden, H. G., Hedeker, D., & Spring, B. (2012). Fitness motivation vs. financial motivation: Adaptive and maladaptive changes in preference for healthy and unhealthy behaviors during a multiple behavior change intervention. Annuals of Behavioral Medicine, 43(s1), s150.


Deci, E. L., & Moller, A. C. (2005). The concept of competence: A starting place for understanding intrinsic motivation and self-determined extrinsic motivation (pp. 579-597). In A. Elliot & C. Dweck (Eds.)Handbook of Competence Motivation, New York: Plenum Press.

Moller, A. C., Friedman, R., & Deci, E. L. (2006). A self-determination theory perspectives on the interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of self-esteem. In M. H. Kernis (Ed.), Self-Esteem Issues and Answers: A Sourcebook of Current Perspectives, Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

Moller, A. C., & Elliot, A. J. (2006). The 2 x 2 achievement goal framework: An overview of empirical research (pp. 307-326). In A. V. Mitel (Ed.), Focus on Educational Psychology Research, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Moller, A. C., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2007). Self-determination theory (p. 806-810). In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.),Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, Vol. 2, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Moller, A. C., & Deci, E. L. (2007). Control (p. 182-185). In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, Vol. 1, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Moller, A. C. (2009). [Review of the book Handbook of Research Methods in Personality Psychology]. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28 (6), 796-798.

Friedman, R., Moller, A. C., Fryer, J. W., Zahn, I., Law, W., Acuff, R. D., Niesta, D., Murayama, K., Meier, A. M., Jelstad, B., & Elliot, A. J. (2009). Achievement goals in the context of the hierarchical model of approach-avoidance achievement motivation. In S. Karabenick & A. Kaplan (Eds.), Culture, Self, and Motivation: Essays in Honor of Martin L. Maehr. NY: Information Age Publishers.

Moller, A. C., & Elliot, A. E. (2009). Competence (p. 121-122). In D. Matsumoto (Ed.), In Cambridge Dictionary of Psychology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moller, A. C., Meier, B. P., & Wall, R. W. (2010). Developing an experimental induction of flow: Effortless action in the lab (p. 191-204). In B. J. Bruya (Ed.), Effortless Attention: A New Perspective in the Cognitive Science of Attention and Action, Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Moller, A. C., & Deci, E. L. (in press). Intrinsic Motivation. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research, Boston MA: Springer Press.

Spring, B., Pictor, A., DeMott, A., Ferguson, M., & Moller, A. C. (in press). Research to practice translation. In M. D. Gellman (Ed.),Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, Boston MA: Springer Press.

Hesse, B.W. (2011). COALESCE (CTSA Online Assistance for Leveraging the Science of Collaborative Effort). JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 306, 1925-1926. This is a review of the online training tool developed by Spring, B., Moller, A. C., and Falk-Krzesinski, H. J.