Motivational Theories

Self-Determination Theory

Following the flaws in the cognitive theory, it became apparent that work motivation incorporates both the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation sources. Self-determination theory proposes that one can possess both intrinsic and extrinsic motives driving their work related and other behaviors. Thus, the more satisfying an activity is, the more the motivation that will be retrieved from it allowing you feel in charge of your behavior. Even mundane satisfaction can generate motivation through extrinsic rewards and the more autonomy one feels, the more self- directed they become leading to more satisfaction from work towards accomplishing intrinsic needs. Becoming capable of expressing inner motives and getting rewarded at the same time is a challenging combination to achieve. The challenge for many is the feeling that their work is under the control of influences outside their inner personal self-determination. Consequently, the feeling of external control causes discontent at work and overall stagnation in life (Deci & Ryan, 2012). Hence, the solution to the problem is identifying the means to express one’s autonomy even if just in small ways.

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Cognitive Theory

According to Neenan and Dryden, (2013), coming from simple realms of behavior conditioning controlled by thoughts, the cognitive, motivational theory posits that our behavior is guided and directly influenced by expectations. That we behave in manners that we think will result in desired outcome. The cognitive theory further proposes that we have two kinds of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation pushes us to achieve our interests and inner potential, defining our desire to display our true self by behavior in work or leisure activities. Also, when driven by intrinsic motivation, one feels in charge of determining the results of their effort. On the contrary, extrinsic motivation defines one’s desire to attain tangible rewards such as money.  The extrinsic rewards such as fame, money and glory crowd out intrinsic fulfillment that one feels when doing something they enjoy doing. It further purports that extrinsic rewards are counter-productive because it leads to diminished creativity and productivity. Therefore, the concept of motivational crowding out introduces obvious flaws since managers can use it to deny granting their employees promotions or rewards because it leads to reduced productivity and creativity.

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Arousal Theory

Arousal theory states that from the opposite pole of drive reduction, humans seek to increase rather than decrease their stimulation levels. We crave for the high that comes with endorphin rush when we push ourselves both mentally and physically. The theory further opines that both humans and animals get bored with excess homeostasis. However, excessive arousal can become detrimental to our quest towards achieving our set goals. Yerkes-Dodson law factors this and proposes that all humans function depending on an optimum arousal level. If we are too nervous or sleepy, we invariably perform poorly in the activities we participate in (Neenan & Dryden, 2013). Therefore, everyone and every task has its peak between an arousal that is too low and that which is too intense. Upon finding one’s optimum arousal level, performance becomes enjoyable and flawless.

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Drive Reduction Theory

The other perspective in understanding motivation is the Drive reduction theory that suggests that living organisms; simple or complex, small and large have preference for a homeostatic state that offers satisfaction for all of their needs. The drive infers to the state of need that propels a behavior that must then be reduced. The theory further states that one gets into the need state when their survival is under threat. Whenever the drive arises, an unpleasant tension state occurs, and the person will behave in a manner that reduces the tension. Tension reduction thus will involve finding the means to satisfy the biological needs such as seeking water to quench thirst when hungry. The theory further proposes that any behavior that results in drive reduction will naturally be repeated by the animals because drive reduction is a positive reinforcement for such behaviors (Gould, Carson & Blanton, 2013). However, the theory has been criticized for not being applicable with secondary reinforcement concepts or being unable to explain why someone can opt to engage in behaviors that do not reduce drives such as drinking when not thirsty.

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Instinct Theory

Instinct theory of motivation perceives that motivation results from either biological or genetic programming. The theory purports that all human beings possess the same motivations because of our biological programming orientation. It further claims that all our motivation roots from the innate desire to survive and that it is from that survival motivation that other life motivations arise. Again that our actions and behavior based on this motivation are considered instinct. A typical example that exemplifies the instinct theory is that of a mother who will do her best in providing comfort to a baby that cries all night, the mother naturally will not go to sleep until her baby is quiet and asleep. Instinct Theory argues that human mothers act in such a manner because they biologically wired that way; providing comfort to a baby is a mother’s instinct. The proponents of the theory posit that such action does not come from learning or conditioning having role models, being brought up in either poor or rich family but it is because it emanates from their instinct. Thus, human mothers can never disregard the motivation to care for their children. The instinct theory, however, has some challenges in that most of the instincts it is based on are not universal; some mothers lack the instinctual behavior towards their children. The other issue is, humans portray varying motivational levels because of jealousy or aggression instincts.

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