Motivation

Graham and Weiner (1990) define motivation as: "the study of why people think and behave as they do" (p. 63) and it is commonly agreed that there are two basic types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Ching, 2015, p. 12).

Evolution of motivation theories

1930 - 1960: The mechanistic period
  • Drive Theory: Paul Young, Clark Hull, Kenneth Spence and Melvin Marx
1960 - 1970: The Arrival of Cognition. Four theories of motivation dominated this period.
  1. Associationistic theory: John Watson
  2. Drive theory: Hull & Spence
  3. Cognitive theory: Kurt Lewin & John Atkinson
  4. Psychoanalytic theory: Sigmund Freud
1970 - 1990: Contemporary motivation research
  • Attribution theory: Samual Ball, Fritz Heider, Harold Kelly, Bernard Weiner
Source: Graham and Weiner (1990, pp. 65-68)

Motivation theories are commonly grouped into two categories: Content and process theories:

Content theories: Focus on the needs that all individuals share;
  • 5 level hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1946) 
  • Others that expanded on Maslow's hierarchy: McGregor (1957), Herzberg (1968) Alderfer (1969), McClelland (1988), Ryan & Deci (2000), Nohria, Lawrence & Wilson (2002), Reiss (2004).
Process theories: Focus on the cognitive differences between individuals;
  • Reinforcement theory (B.F. Skinner, 1935)
  • Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957)
  • Expectancy theory: (Vroom, 1964; Porter & Lawler, 1968)
  • ARCS model of intrinsic motivation (John Keller, 1987; Malone & Lepper, 1987)
  • Social equity theory: (John Adams, 1963; Mowday, 1991)
  • Goal-setting theory (Edwin Lock, 1968; Latham & Blades, 1975; Rothkopf & Billington, 1979; Locke, Latham & Smith, 1990; Locke & Latham, 2002)
  • Transactional drivers (Taibi Kahler, 1975)
  • Motivating self-managed work team (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993; Wellins, 1993; Clark, 2003)
Source: Ching (2015).

 

Dan Pink, a leading author on Motivation believes intrinsic motivation is supported by 3 elements: 1) autonomy, 2) mastery and 3) purpose. In the video below, Pink uses research to support this point of view.

Useful resources