Four Major Theories on Motivation

Motivation is a psychological function that is related to emotions but distinct from it. When it comes to other animals, motivation is almost identical or inseparable from instinct. For example, predators such as wolves and lions motivated to hunt primarily because of hunger. Motivation tends to become complex as the intellectual capacity an organism increases such as in apes and humans.

Human motivation

When it comes to humans, motivation is directly related to success in achieving difficult but desirable and rewarding goals. Stronger motivation is necessary as the goal becomes more challenging and as competitors. Straight-A students, champion athletes, celebrities and powerful politicians are just some examples of high achievers whose successes are directly related to their strong motivations.

It may seem that opportunities and talents are the main factors for success but without strong motivation all of these may easily be squandered. Many successful people are not necessarily the most intelligent or talented but they have the right attitude. Successful people always see opportunities even in times of difficulties and initial failures.

Motivation is a major issue in any competitive and productivity-oriented environment. It is a crucial issue at work. It is a complex issue that has many variables, making it difficult to describe and sustain.

Many psychologists, management experts and sociologists attempt to classify and define motivation; here are some of the major theories.

1.) Incentive theory of motivation: Gaining something beneficial or desirable is the fundamental assumption of this theory. This theory emphasizes on extrinsic rewards as the main reason why people are motivated to do specific actions. It is the proverbial carrot hanging at the end of a stick. It is self-evident that people tend to be motivated if they see the prospects of rewards such as extra monetary incentive or bonus for accomplishing a difficult task at work.

2.) Escape-seeking dichotomy model: This model attempts to describe people’s motivation in terms of the dichotomy between escaping and seeking. For example, someone who is poor may want to escape the unfavorable situation but at the same time strive or seek for better opportunities.

3.) Drive reduction theory: As the name implies, the theory emphasizes on the intrinsic biological and psychological drives that need to be satisfied. Strong drives will imply strong motivation or behavioral modifications geared to satisfy the drive, thereby reducing its intensity. A person who is already at the peak of success in a particular field may already find it boring to do the same things and may seek other goals.

4.) Need theory: This theory is based on the idea of the hierarchy of needs. It emphasized on the concept of optimizing resources and effort to satisfy specific needs. This is actually a broad theory that includes the Herzberg’s two-factor theory, the Alderfer’s ERG theory, and self-determination theory.

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