Volition refers to a capacity for endogenous action, particularly goal-directed endogenous action, shared by humans and some other animals. It has long been controversial whether a specific set of cognitive processes for volition exist in the human brain, and much scientific thinking on the topic continues to revolve around traditional metaphysical debates about free will. At its origins, scientific psychology had a strong engagement with volition. This was followed by a period of disenchantment, or even outright hostility, during the second half of the twentieth century. In this review, I aim to reinvigorate the scientific approach to volition by, first, proposing a range of different features that constitute a new, neurocognitively realistic working definition of volition. I then focus on three core features of human volition: its generativity (the capacity to trigger actions), its subjectivity (the conscious experiences associated with initiating voluntary actions), and its teleology (the goal-directed quality of some voluntary actions). I conclude that volition is a neurocognitive process of enormous societal importance and susceptible to scientific investigation.
Advances in understanding voluntary action provide the starting point for a neuroscientific approach to one of the fundamental aspects of being human. This will in turn allow better understanding of failures of volition in both neurological and psychiatric illnesses.
1610s, from French volition (16c.), from Medieval Latin volitionem (nominative volitio) "will, volition," noun of action from Latin stem (as in volo "I wish") of velle "to wish," from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (see will (v.)). Related: Volitional.
Compare also Old English wel "well," literally "according to one's wish;" wela "well-being, riches." The use as a future auxiliary was already developing in Old English. The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity. Contracted forms, especially after pronouns, began to appear 16c., as in sheele for "she will." In early use often -ile to preserve pronunciation. The form with an apostrophe ('ll) is from 17c.
The most powerful force of human behavior is willpower. When managers learn to activate willpower, or volition, in themselves and others, companies reap the benefits of purposeful action taking and see more projects completed. 041b061a72