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Motivation And Concepts Table And Analysis

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Category: Psychology

Autor: reviewessays 08 February 2011

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Motivation and Concepts Table and Analysis

Motivation and Concepts Table and Analysis

John H. Rehmert

University of Phoenix

Motivation and Concepts Table and Analysis

Motivation Concepts Table

Theory Name

Major Theorist(s) Time Period Created

Key Theory Concepts


(Grand Theory) RenГ© Descartes Post-Renaissance era If one could understand the will, then he could understand motivation.


(Grand Theory) William James

William McDougall 1890

1930 Inherited physical and mental instincts produce predictable behavior given the appropriate stimulus.


(Grand Theory) Robert Woodworth

Sigmund Freud

Clark Hull 1918


1943 Motivation comes directly from bodily deficits causing behaviors with the aim of reversing the deficit.

Achievement John Atkinson 1964 Motivation toward a particular behavior is influenced by one’s urge to achieve and the probability of success.

Attributional Bernard Weiner 1972 Motivation via the attribution of causes to events – whether regarding the behavior of others or themselves.

Cognitive dissonance Leon Festinger 1957 Contradicting cognitions drive the creation of new or modification of existing thoughts/beliefs, which drive motivation.

Effectance Robert White

Susan Harter 1959

1978 Motivation is driven by the inherent pleasures derived from the exploration, curiosity, mastery, and attempts to deal competently with one's environment.

Expectancy x value Victor Vroom 1964 Motivation by the expected results of a behavior, such as an increase in salary or benefits for better job performance

Intrinsic Edward Deci 1957 Human motivation and the behaviors produced are to satisfy needs toward self-determined outcomes.

Goal-setting Edwin Locke 1968 Motivation and subsequent actions are influenced by conscious performance goals in an organizational or work-related environment.

Learned Helplessness Martin Seligman 1975 Motivation is influenced by a perceived or imposed level of futility in their efforts.

Reactance Jack Brehm 1966 Actions motivated by rules and/or regulations that threaten or eliminate behavioral freedoms.

Self-efficacy Albert Bandura 1977 People’s beliefs determine their level of motivation

Self-schemas H. R. Markus 1977 People’s past experiences influence their motivation and subsequent behavior.


The achievement motivation theory can be applied to many situations in the workplace. One situation, to which the theory can be applied, comes to mind from a prior organizational environment. The situation involved an information technology employee who was promoted from the help desk to a departmental task force. He was promoted because he exhibited outstanding performance in his time with the help desk and tested well on the internal promotional scale (a test given to assess the disposition and level of self-motivation). He seemed to thrive on challenges – technically and professionally – and had a commendable career history. The task force, to which he was promoted, was assigned to study, improve, and increase the automation of the classified spill clean-up process. The main charge of the task force was to remediate security breaches caused by the distribution of classified materials using unclassified communication mechanisms. His assignment was to learn the general-use scripting languages for operating system (OS) independent automation – Microsoft Visual Basic Script (VBScript) and Perl – to act as an apprentice to the lead systems engineer with the goal that he would assume some of the remedial operations to patch/update the scripts that drive the process. Initially, he appeared eager to take on the new challenge. Even though his experience with programming was minimal, he had a very logical/procedural thought process, which lends itself to scripting. After several weeks of apprenticeship and expected self-study, he requested to be returned to the help desk team. When prompted for the reason(s) behind his request, he stated a few nonsensical reasons. Several weeks later, he was counseled by the lead systems engineer and revealed that he was apprehensive about his programming abilities because he did not feel he was progressing as quickly as expected. The lead engineer asked how he was measuring his progress and he replied “by my own expectations.” To which the lead engineer reacted with amazement considering his prior performance ratings and test results. He had reacted to a fear that he would not succeed – an indication that the achievement motivation theory could be applied (though the lead engineer did not actually consider the actual motivational theory at the time). In a reaction to that, the lead engineer applied a different motivational theory – goal-setting – by recommending that he reapply for the task force position with the knowledge that he would be provided with bi-weekly goals to measure his progress. He reapplied, was accepted, and consistently exceeded the bi-weekly goals. A few months later, he became the lead programmer on the task force when the lead systems engineer was abruptly promoted. In that instance, two theories were applied – one to explain the employee’s behavior and the other to direct his behavior and accomplish the organizational goals.

An instance in which the achievement motivation theory would not be applicable was when the lead systems engineer was abruptly promoted (almost forced, due to the lack of options) to acting technical director of the department. The promotion was a challenge that he was definitely willing to face and conquer, but the motivation theory applied by upper management was definitely not the achievement theory. In retrospect, the motivation theories that applied in that situation were attributional and effectance. The attributional motivation came from upper management, who attributed the promotion to the resignation of the previous technical director and the lack of a better candidate to assume the responsibility while the requisition was published to external entities. In all honesty and with the new knowledge of motivation theory, one could assert that was the least effective motivation available to upper management – aside from no motivation. The effectance theory was applied by the new acting technical director as he faced the new assignment, as unexpected as it was, and realized the self-motivation toward competently approaching the daily challenges of the new position, along with his endless desire to master each and every aspect of his professional career. Through such intrinsic motivation, the acting technical director implemented many inventive solutions that streamlined and automated procedures within the organization and led to an increase in efficiencies with a myriad of cost reductions for the entire organization. As a result, the acting technical director was awarded the removal of the “acting” from his title and subsequently provided motivation (mostly extrinsic) to remain with the organization.

Considering the situations described above, there is a definite need for the entire management structure of organizations to learn and implement motivational concepts. Although involved with both situations above, the author can imagine the implementation of several of the other available motivation concepts in each situation to achieve the same or very similar goals or target behavior. In the quickly changing organizational environment of today (and tomorrow), the author can certainly see the need for new or modified motivation concepts to fit such a dynamic environment. The grand motivation theories will continue to have a basis for application, considering their roots in the human psyche and their “macro” nature. However, as individuals, workplace environments, and organizations evolve, the effectiveness of existing theories might wane and compel the use of more targeted motivation theories.