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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 

Human motivation, behavioral health, and wellness
Financial incentives
Social networks and social support
Technology (e.g., wearable activity trackers)
Game design
Habit formation
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 maintains a secondary 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 applying and advancing theories related to behavioral health and wellness. His work often involves leveraging principles from social psychology and human motivation, as well as game design, financial incentives, social networks, and technology. Recent 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 and personal experience suggests that, when done well, team science is more creative, more impactful, and more fun. 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.

Recently Taught Courses

Illinois Institute of Technology
Human Behavior, Growth, & Learning (Spring 2013, 2014)
Social Psychology (Fall 2012, 2013, 2014)
Graduate-level Social Basis of Behavior (Fall 2012, 2013, 2014)
Intro to Professional Psychology II (Spring 2014, 2015)
The Psychological Science of Money (Spring 2015)

Gettysburg College
Basic Dynamics in Personality (Fall 2007, 2008, Spring 2008)
Advanced Social and Personality Psychology (Fall 2007, 2008)
Introduction to Psychology (Spring 2008)

University of Rochester                       
Human Motivation & Emotion (Summer 2002, Spring 2007)
Introduction to Psychology (Summer 2004)
Writing about Motivation (Fall 2005, Spring 2006)

Professional Society Memberships 

Research & Major Accomplishments 

Current Research Lab Members (Spring 2015)

Pooja Agarwal (Spring 2014 - Spring 2015)
Melanie Standish (Spring 2014 - Spring 2015)
Emily Darnell (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

Past Research Lab Members / Lab Alumni

Sara Majewski (Spring 2013 - Spring 2014) 
Biruk Eyesus (Spring 2013 - Fall 2013) 
Aleksandra Podowski (Spring 2014 - Fall 2014)
Rebecca Carson (Spring 2013)
Sydney Fiol (Fall 2014)


Timothy Carsel (Fall 2013, Spring 2014)
Biruk Eyesus (Spring 2014)
Rebecca Carson (Fall 2014)
Caroline Hanlet (Fall 2014)
Bernadette Bajzek (Spring 2015)

Selected Publications 

Journal Articles

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.

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).

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.

Pellegrini, C. A., Duncan, J. M., Moller, A. C., Buscemi, J., Sularz, A., DeMott, A., Pictor, A., Pagoto, S., Siddique, J., & Spring, B. (2012). A Smartphone-Supported Weight Loss Program: Design of the ENGAGED Randomized Controlled Trial. BMC Public Health.

Moller, A. C., Buscemi, J., McFadden, H. G., Hedeker, D., & Spring, B. (2013). Financial motivation undermines potential enjoyment in an intensive diet & activity intervention. Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Spring, B., Moller, A. C., Colangelo, L., Siddique, J., Roehrig, M., Daviglus, M., Polak, J. F., Reis, J. P., Sidney, S., Liu, K. (2014).  Healthy lifestyle change and subclinical atherosclerosis in young adults: Coronary artery risk development in young adults (CARDIA) Study. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/

Moller, A. C., Majewski, S., Standish, M., Agarwal, P., Podowski, A., Carson, R., Eyesus, B., Shah, A., & Schneider, K. L. (2014). Augmented fantasy sports: Rationale and feasibility of leveraging online fantasy sports to promote physical activity. Journal of Internet Medical Research Serious Games, 4, e13. DOI: 10.2196/games.369

Poncela-Casasnovas, J., Spring, B., McClary, D., Moller, A. C., Mukogo, R., Pellegrini, C. A., Coons, M. J., Davidson, M, Mukherjee, S., Amaral, L. A. N. (2015). Social embeddedness in an online weight management program is linked to greater weight loss. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 12(104)


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.

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.

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

Spring, B., Moller, A. C., Falk-Krzesinski, H. J., & Hall, K. L. (2012). An emerging science and praxis for research and practice teams (Editorial). Translational Behavioral Medicine, 2(4), 411-414.

Spring, B., Pictor, A., DeMott, A., Ferguson, M., & Moller, A. C. (2013). Research to practice translation. In M. D. Gellman & J. R. Turner (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, Boston MA: Springer Press.

Moller, A. C., & Spring, B. (2013). What to do when near-term rewards mask long-term consequences. Interview by Paul Terry. American Journal of Health Promotion, 27(4). PMID: 23570063

Moller, A. C., Waters, E. A., & Hay, J. L. (2013). Financial incentives in behavioral medicine: A complex issue. Society of Behavioral MedicineOutlook.

Moller, A. C., & Deci, E. L. (2014). Intrinsic Motivation (p. 3378-3381). In A. C. Michalos (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research, Springer Press, Dordrecht, Netherlands. ISBM# 978-94-007-0752-8

Moller, A. C., & Deci, E. L. (2014). The psychology of getting paid: An integrated perspective (pp.189-211). In E. H. Bijleveld & H. Aarts (Eds.), The psychological science of money, New York, NY: Springer Press.