content theory


  • [35] Students are likely to be intrinsically motivated if they… • attribute their educational results to factors under their own control, also known as autonomy or locus
    of control • believe they have the skills to be effective agents in reaching their desired goals, also known as self-efficacy beliefs • are interested in mastering a topic, not just in achieving good grades • don’t act from pressure, but from
    interest An example of intrinsic motivation is when an employee becomes an IT professional because he or she wants to learn about how computer users interact with computer networks.

  • [23] In this model the basic desires that motivate our actions and define our personalities are: • Acceptance, the need for approval • Curiosity, the need to learn • Eating,
    the need for food • Family, the need to raise children • Honor, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of one’s clan/ethnic group • Idealism, the need for social justice • Independence, the need for individuality • Order, the need
    for organized, stable, predictable environments • Physical activity, the need for exercise • Power, the need for influence of will • Romance, the need for sex and for beauty • Saving, the need to collect • Social contact, the need for friends
    (peer relationships) • Social status, the need for social standing/importance • Tranquility, the need to be safe • Vengeance, the need to strike back and to compete Natural theories The natural system assumes that people have higher-order
    needs, which contrasts with the rational theory that suggests that people dislike work and only respond to rewards and punishment.

  • to involve increased feelings of reward and satisfaction in a working environment and thus may support subjective well-being.

  • [32] For this reason, efforts in education sometimes attempt to modify intrinsic motivation with the goal of promoting future student learning performance, creativity, and
    learning via long-term modifications in interests.

  • His desire to play is strong enough to be considered intrinsic motivation because it is a natural feeling, and his desire to communicate with his therapist to get the train
    can be considered extrinsic motivation because the outside object is a reward (see incentive theory).

  • [24] Unlike the rational management system, which assumes that humans don’t care about these higher-order needs, the natural system is based on these needs as a means for

  • [32] Flow theory Flow theory refers to desirable subjective state a person experiences when completely involved in some challenging activity that matches the individual’s

  • In relation to motivation, classical conditioning might be seen as one explanation as to why an individual performs certain responses and behaviors in certain situations.

  • The employee has the intrinsic motivation to gain more knowledge, and will continue to want to learn even in the face of failure.

  • [50] Csikszentmihalyi describes 8 characteristics of flow as – the complete concentration on the task, clarity of goals & reward in mind and immediate feedback, transformation
    of time (speeding up/slowing down of time), the experience is intrinsically rewarding, effortlessness & ease, a balance between challenge and skills, merged actions and awareness, loss of self-conscious rumination and a feeling of control
    over the task.

  • This theory holds that employees can view work as natural, are creative, can be self-motivated, and appreciate responsibility.

  • These actions stand “in direct opposition to the ideas underlying their system of financial incentive, which countenanced no upper limit to performance other than the physical
    capacity of the individual.

  • [27] Unlike the rational theory of motivation, people are not driven toward economic interests per the natural system.

  • When the motivation to complete a task comes from an “external pressure” that pressure then “undermines” the person’s motivation, and as a result decreases the person’s desire
    to complete the task.

  • [30] It is an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on external pressures or a desire for consideration.

  • Within Self-Determination Theory, Deci & Ryan[22] distinguish between four different types of extrinsic motivation, differing in their levels of perceived autonomy: • External
    regulation: This is the least autonomous of the four and is determined by external punishment or reward.

  • The CET essentially states that social-contextual events like feedback and reinforcement can cause feelings of competence and therefore increase intrinsic motivation.

  • [48] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described Flow theory as “A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable
    that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.

  • [42] By contrast, intrinsic motivation has been found to be hard to modify, and attempts to recruit existing intrinsic motivators require a non-trivially difficult individualized
    approach, identifying and making relevant the different motivators needed to motivate different students,[30] possibly requiring additional skills and intrinsic motivation from the instructor.

  • As the task is completed for the reward, the quality of work may need to be monitored,[30] and it has been suggested that extrinsic motivators may diminish in value over time.

  • [33] In short, the cause of the behavior must be internal, known as internal locus of causality, and the individual who engages in the behavior must perceive that the task
    increases their competence.

  • “16 basic desires” theory Starting from studies involving more than 6,000 people, Reiss proposed that 16 basic desires guide nearly all human behavior.

  • In other words, certain things, which Herzberg called hygiene factors, could cause a person to become unhappy with their job.

  • This type of thinking is popular now, with people becoming more aware of the productivity of self-empowered work teams.

  • [31] Not only can intrinsic motivation be used in a personal setting, but it can also be implemented and utilized in a social environment.

  • Without this innate motivation, a species may determine that attaining intercourse is too costly in terms of effort, energy, and danger.

  • According to the model, physiological needs raise tension, thereby forcing an individual to seek an outlet by satisfying those needs Ziegler, Daniel (1992).

  • The highest order of needs is for self-fulfillment, including recognition of one’s full potential, areas for self-improvement, and the opportunity for creativity.

  • [26] The innate desire for lasting human association and management “is not related to single workers, but always to working groups.

  • Articles stretching over the span of 25 years from the perspective of behavioral theory argue that there isn’t enough evidence to explain intrinsic motivation and this theory
    would inhibit “scientific progress.”

  • [30] Pursuing challenges and goals come easier and more enjoyable when one is intrinsically motivated to complete a certain objective because the individual is more interested
    in learning, rather than achieving the goal.

  • Content theories of motivation often describe a system of needs that motivate peoples’ actions.

  • “[27] Therefore, as opposed to the rational system that depends on economic rewards and punishments, the natural system of management assumes that humans are also motivated
    by non-economic factors.

  • In the view of behaviorism, motivation is understood as a question about what factors cause, prevent, or withhold various behaviors, while the question of, for instance, conscious
    motivation would be ignored.

  • [citation needed] Need theory David McClelland proposed a context for understanding the needs in people, which holds significance in understanding their motivations and behaviors.

  • That being said, sex as a basic need is different from the need for sexual intimacy, which is located on the third level in Maslow’s hierarchy.

  • It confers the need to be able to exercise direction in the world surrounding you, and cause things to happen.

  • These things, including pay, job security, and physical work environment, could never bring about job satisfaction.

  • A person may have the need for affiliation at the same time they have the need for power.

  • So, while a person may strongly feel the need to affiliate during times of loneliness, they may at another time feel the strong need for power when instructed to organize
    an event.

  • [32] However, another study showed that third graders who were rewarded with a book showed more reading behavior in the future, implying that some rewards do not undermine
    intrinsic motivation.

  • Next come the Relatedness Needs, the need to feel connected to other individuals or a group.

  • [18][19] These three psychological needs are suggested to be essential for psychological health & well-being along with behavioral motivation.

  • Romantic love therefore solves the commitment problem of parents needing to be together; individuals that are loyal and faithful to one another will have mutual survival benefits.

  • Individuals who have the need for power will seek activities which likewise satisfy this need, such as, running for high positions in organizations and seeking opportunities
    to exercise that dominance.

  • Also, timing may connote different strengths of needs at different moments.

  • [32]: 70–71  Offering people choices, responding to their feelings, and opportunities for self-direction have been reported to enhance intrinsic motivation via increased autonomy.

  • This differs from the rational system, which assumes that people prefer routine and security to creativity.

  • [24] According to McGregor’s Theory Y, human behavior is based on satisfying a hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, social, ego, and self-fulfillment.

  • Individuals who have high needs for achievement will tend to engage in competitive activities in order to fulfill this desire.

  • Needs may arise and change along with a change of context.

  • In situations where choices, feelings, and opportunities are present, intrinsic motivation is increased because people feel a greater sense of autonomy.

  • Students who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to engage in the task willingly as well as work to improve their skills, which will increase their capabilities.

  • However, this is still classified as extrinsic motivation as it is still driven by external processes and not by inherent enjoyment for the task itself.

  • Abraham Maslow believed that man is inherently good and argued that individuals possess a constantly growing inner drive that has great potential.

  • They may comply for self-esteem reasons or social acceptability – essentially internal reasons but externally driven.

  • [20] There are three essential elements to the theory:[21] • Humans are inherently proactive with their potential and at mastering their inner forces (such as drive and emotions).

  • The Need for Affiliation is the desire to be around people and be well received socially.

  • Theory X states that employees dislike and try to avoid work, so they must be coerced into doing it.

  • [32] The two necessary elements for intrinsic motivation are self-determination and an increase in perceived competence.

  • It is subdivided into three categories: the Need for Achievement, the Need for Affiliation, and the Need for Power.

  • Self-management through teamwork[edit] To successfully manage and motivate employees, the natural system posits that being a part of a group is necessary.

  • Most workers do not want responsibilities, lack ambition, and value job security more than anything else.

  • [8] There are multiple theories for why sex is a strong motivation, and many fall under the theory of evolution.

  • [31] The phenomenon of intrinsic motivation was first acknowledged within experimental studies of animal behavior.

  • Where others would speculate about such things as values, drives, or needs, that may not be observed directly, behaviorists are interested in the observable variables that
    affect the type, intensity, frequency, and duration of the observable behavior.

  • In one study, when children were given mild threats against playing with an attractive toy, it was found that the threat actually served to increase the child’s interest in
    the toy, which was previously undesirable to the child in the absence of threat.

  • Most of the time mental fatigue can be fixed by a simple life change like being more organized or learning to say no.

  • Secondary traits: Present in all people, but strongly reliant on context- can be altered as needed and would be the focus of a conscious motivation effort.

  • This motivation has repeatedly been linked with adaptive motivational patterns, including working hard, a willingness to pick learning tasks with much difficulty, and attributing
    success to effort.

  • In other words, it’s the person’s assessment of how well and what kind of effort will relate to better performance.

  • Not wanting to proceed further with the current mental course of action is in contrast with physical fatigue, because in most cases no physical activity is done.

  • Unlike many theories related to personality, reversal theory proposes that human behavior is better understood by studying dynamic states than by the average of behavior over
    time trait theory.

  • The death instinct can be closely related to Freud’s other concept, the id, which is our need to experience pleasure immediately, regardless of the consequences.

  • There’s also an equation for this theory which goes as follows: or [80] • M (Motivation) is the amount an individual will be motivated by the condition or environment they
    placed themselves in, which is based on the following.

  • Expectancy theory explains the behavior process in which an individual selects a behavior option over another, and why/how this decision is made in relation to their goal.

  • In terms of motivation, Freud argues that unconscious instinctual impulses can still have great influence on behavior even though the person is not aware of the source.

  • Mental fatigue arises when an individual becomes involved in a complex task but does no physical activity and is still worn out, the reason for this is because the brain uses
    about 20 percent of the human body’s metabolic heart rate.

  • Mental fatigue can affect an individual’s life by causing a lack of motivation, avoidance of friends and family members, and changes in one’s mood.

  • [78] With an overly restricting time restraint, the subject could potentially feel overwhelmed, which could deter the subject from achieving the goal because the amount of
    time provided is not sufficient or rational.

  • [102]” this means that though no physical activity was done, the sympathetic nervous system was triggered.

  • The interpersonal perspective includes beliefs about the responsibility of others and emotions directed at other people, for instance attributing blame to another individual.

  • One study suggests that after engaging in a complex task, an individual tends to consume about two hundred more calories than if they had been resting or relaxing; however,
    this appeared to be due to stress, not higher caloric expenditure.

  • The emphasis on performance seeks to integrate formerly separate approaches as need for achievement[71] with, for example, social motives like dominance.

  • [8] Conscious Motivation[edit] Freud relied heavily upon the theories of unconscious motivation as explained above, but Allport (a researcher in 1967) looked heavily into
    the powers of conscious motivation and the effect it can have upon goals set for an individual.

  • Personality is intimately tied to performance and achievement motivation, including such characteristics as tolerance for risk, fear of failure, and others.

  • As a result, it includes a range of dimensions that are relevant to success at work but which are not conventionally regarded as being part of performance motivation.

  • [89] Attributions are predicted to alter behavior, for instance attributing failure on a test to a lack of study might generate emotions of shame and motivate harder study.

  • This process is supposed to protect the individual from any embarrassment that could come from acting on these impulses or thoughts that exist in the unconscious.

  • [75] This type of motivation is a drive that is developed from an emotional state.

  • Reversal theory proposes in its principle of bistability that any level of arousal or stimulation may be found either desirable or undesirable depending on the meta-motivational
    state one is in.

  • This is not to say that unconscious motivation should be ignored with this theory, but instead, it focuses on the thought that if we are aware of our surroundings and our
    goals, we can then actively and consciously take steps towards them.

  • In this theory, there are three causes responsible for behavior and change in behavior: 1.

  • It simplifies the field of motivation and allows findings from one theory to be translated into the terms of another.

  • Freud describes the event of a thought or impulse being denied at the door as repression, one of the many defense mechanisms.

  • • E (Expectancy) is the person’s perception that effort will result in performance.

  • To complete the assessment, each story created by the test subject must be carefully recorded and monitored to uncover underlying needs and patterns of reactions each subject

  • For example, one may be sexually attracted to a person, due to their sexual instinct, but the self-preservation instinct prevents them to act on this urge until that person
    finds that it is socially acceptable to do so.

  • Having too much time allows for distraction and procrastination, which also serves as a distraction to the subject by steering their attention away from the original goal.

  • [76] Their research showed that business managers who were successful demonstrated a high need to achieve no matter the culture.

  • “[96] Priming can affect motivation, in the way that we can be motived to do things by an outside source.

  • Introduced in a 2006 Academy of Management Review article,[69] it synthesizes into a single formulation, the primary aspects of several other major motivational theories,
    including Incentive Theory, Drive Theory, Need Theory, Self-Efficacy and Goal Setting.

  • This room also houses a person’s consciousness, which is the part of the preconscious that is the focus at that given time.

  • [100] These numbers represent an individual’s brain working on routine tasks, things that are not challenging.

  • [106] Reversal theory has been academically supported and put to practical use in more than 30 fields (e.g., sports psychology, business, medical care, addiction, and stress)
    and in over 30 countries.

  • They want to hear continuous recognition, as well as feedback, in order for them to know how well they are doing.

  • [90] Approach versus avoidance Approach motivation (i.e., incentive salience) can be defined as when a certain behavior or reaction to a situation/environment is rewarded
    or results in a positive or desirable outcome.

  • They would prefer a work environment in which they are able to assume responsibility for solving problems.

  • [91][92] Research suggests that, all else being equal, avoidance motivations tend to be more powerful than approach motivations.

  • If the user puts it off until the night before, they can justify their poor score by telling themselves that they would have done better with more time.

  • John W. Atkinson, David Birch and their colleagues developed the theory of “Dynamics of Action” to mathematically model change in behavior as a consequence of the interaction
    of motivation and associated tendencies toward specific actions.

  • There are three major characteristics of people who have a great need to achieve according to McClelland’s research.

  • “Avoider” types procrastinate to avoid the outcome of whatever task they are pushing back – whether it be a potential failure or success.

  • One may feel the drive to achieve by striving for success and avoiding failure.

  • When an individual is exposed to the word “cancer,” for example, and then offered the choice to smoke a cigarette, we expect that there is a greater probability that they
    will choose not to smoke as a result of the earlier exposure.

  • Volition is seen as a process that leads from intention to actual behavior.

  • [79] Most people are not optimally motivated, as many want a challenge (which assumes some kind of insecurity of success).

  • [78] Similarly to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a larger end goal is easier to achieve if the subject has smaller, more attainable yet still challenging goals to achieve first
    in order to advance over a period of time.

  • where Motivation is the desire for a particular outcome, Expectancy or self-efficacy is the probability of success, Value is the reward associated with the outcome, Impulsiveness
    is the individual’s sensitivity to delay and Delay is the time to realization.

  • A perfect example of mental fatigue is seen in college students just before finals approach.


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