Psychological Momentum and Inertia: Toward a Model of Academic Motivation

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Career Development


Sage Publications, Inc.

Publication Date


Award Number

NSF, Division of Human Resource Development 1661054


NSF, Division of Human Resource Development


Building upon psychological momentum theory, we draw an analogy between motivational constructs proposed herein and the physical principles of mass, inertia, and momentum. From these principles, we derived constructs representing academic inertia in states of both low and high momentum. The sample consisted of 105 African American college students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors. Results of a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of a newly developed scale yielded support for two distinct factors reflecting low momentum state inertia (LMSI) and high momentum state inertia (HMSI). The conditional relationship between LMSI and HMSI was then examined with inspiration as a moderating variable. Consistent with our prediction, results indicated that the relationship between LMSI and HMSI was positive and significant at low levels of inspiration, while this slope was not significant at high levels of inspiration. Implications for cognitive-affective factors that may inhibit or facilitate psychological momentum in the context of academic functioning are discussed.