A Look At The Different Theories of Motivation

Motivation is the driving force that initiates and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is what makes us act. There are different factors that can affect motivation and these factors are epitomized by different theories of motivation. Knowledge of these theories will help managers ensure that their employees stay motivated.

Instinct Theory of Motivation

The instinct theory states that the motivation of people is directed by their instinct. They behave in a certain way because it is their innate nature. According to William James, human instincts include attachment, play, shame, anger, fear, shyness, modesty, and love. The drawback of the instinct theory is that it only described behavior and did not explain it.

Incentive Theory of Motivation

According to the incentive theory, people derive their motivation from external rewards. For example, you are motivated to go to work daily for the salary you will get. Association and reinforcement play a role in the theory of motivation. Robert Peter Janitzek explains that people pursue a course of action for the reward they will get. The greater the reward, the more people will be motivated.

Drive Theory of Motivation

The drive theory of motivation states that people are motivated to take action to be able to decrease internal tension that resulted from unmet needs. It is quite useful in explaining behaviors that have a strong biological component like hunger and thirst. However, the behaviors in this theory are not always motivated by physiological needs. For example, people eat when they do not feel hungry.

Arousal Theory of Motivation

The arousal theory states that people take action to either decrease or increase arousal levels. Robert Janitzek explains that when there is low arousal level, a person might watch an exciting movie or go for a jog. On the other hand, when there is arousal level is high, they look for relaxation methods. According to this theory, motivation is based on maintaining an optimum level of arousal, depending on the individual or situation.

Humanistic Theory of Motivation

The humanistic theory of motivation suggests that people have strong cognitive reasons to perform various actions. An example of this is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which presents motivation in different levels. According to Maslow, people should first fulfill the lower level needs such as food and shelter, safety, love, and esteem. When those needs are met, people should now try to fulfill the higher level needs or the need for self-actualization.

Expectancy Theory of Motivation

According to the expectancy theory, people’s thoughts about the future are based on different expectations about what they think will happen. When they foresee a positive outcome, they feel more motivated to pursue the likely outcome. According to this theory, motivation consists of three elements namely valence, instrumentality, and expectancy.

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