Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1131–1145 | Cite as

The Development of Motivation and Amotivation to Study and Work across Age-Graded Transitions in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

  • Jennifer SymondsEmail author
  • Ingrid Schoon
  • Jacquelynne Eccles
  • Katariina Salmela-Aro
Empirical Research


People’s motivation to engage in studying and working is an important precursor of participation and attainment. However, little is known about how motivation and the lack of motivation develops normatively across adolescence and young adulthood. Furthermore, there is no comparison of motivation and amotivation development across sequential age-graded transitions such as the mid-schooling transition in adolescence and the school-to-work transition in young adulthood. The current study explored trajectories of motivation and amotivation development in Finland, using piecewise growth curve modelling to analyze five waves of data (age 15–22 years) from a sample of 878 youth (52% male). Indicators of amotivation (disinterest, futility and inertia) decreased, whilst the indicator of motivation (attainment value) increased across both transitions. Reductions in disinterest and inertia were steeper for youth transferring into vocational education at the mid-schooling transition and for youth transferring from an academic track to higher education at the school-to-work transition. Amotivation and motivation shifted most at the school-to-work transition, signaling the importance of this period for motivation development. Overall, the results suggest that young people became more motivated and less amotivated as they aged from adolescence through young adulthood, in line with normative maturational and gradual social changes and transfer into increasingly personalized environments.


Motivation Amotivation Task-value School transition School-to-work transition 



The young people in the FinEdu study and their families are acknowledged for their time and energy in participating in the multiple waves of data collection. All researchers involved in the design, administration and data management for the FinEdu study are likewise thanked for their contributions.

Authors’ Contributions

J.S. conceived of the study, performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. I.S. advised on the theoretical perspective, methodology and discussion. J.E. advised on the theoretical perspective, methodology and discussion. coordinated the data collection, provided the data for analysis, and advised on the theoretical perspective, methodology and discussion. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by the Jacobs Foundation (Pathways to Adulthood) and the Academy of Finland.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets analyzed during the current study are not currently available publicly. Interested researchers may contact the last author to inquire about the data.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study received ethical approval from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Informed Consent

Parents gave opt-out consent for their children to participate in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Institute of EducationUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.School of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  4. 4.Educational SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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