Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Ronald Riggio

Reader 2

David Day

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© 2019 Leya J Aronoff


Although motivation to lead (MTL) was characterized as stable, recent research suggested otherwise. This study explored the malleability of MTL and its predictors. Individuals with high affective-identity MTL are motivated to lead because they enjoy leading. Individuals with high social normative MTL are motivated by an obligation to lead. Individuals with high noncalculative MTL are drawn to leadership because they avoid weighing the costs and benefits of leading. Applicants to a California college were sent a questionnaire on MTL and leadership self-efficacy (LSE) (Time 1 assessment, N = 2704). Four years later (Time 2), participants who responded at Time 1 were sent a survey on motivation to lead, leadership self-efficacy, college leadership experience, and leader identity (LID) (N = 96). Results showed that participants’ affective-identity and noncalculative MTL have decreased over time. Leadership self-efficacy at Time 2 and leader identity at Time 2 were related to the changes in all 3 categories of MTL. Only specific college leadership experiences related to changes in affective-identity MTL. Lastly, leader identity at Time 2 mediated the relationship between affective-identity MTL at Time 1 and Time 2. Most high school students applied to college aspiring to be leaders, but only students who cultivate their leader identity should continue to be motivated to lead. Implications are discussed in the context of the construct validity of MTL, specifically for student leadership development in higher education.