What is Motivation?
Anybody who's interested in understanding, predicting, or influencing individual behavior must start with a basic understanding of human motivation. Why do people behave as they do? This question has interested behavioral and social scientists, as well as everyday people for hundreds of years. Previously, we discussed attribution theory. This theory has been designed to explain how people attempt to explain the motivation of others. The mere existence of attribution theory is testimony to the fact that individuals are continually trying to figure out the motives behind their own behavior and behavior of others. As we observe some of our colleagues working very hard and some of them working hardly at all, we wonder what motivates these hard workers or why those exhibiting minimum performance are not as motivated as the hard workers? There are a number of issues, or conflicts, that have divided both motivational scholars and every day psychologists for many years. These issues are:
- Is motivation Internal to the individual (dispositional) or the result of External (situational) forces? That is, is the Duracell battery commercial depicting some people with high amounts of energy (motivation), while others have low motivation, an accurate description of human nature? Are some people more highly motivated across all situations while others lack motivation in all situational contexts?
- What is the relative effectiveness of Extrinsic Motivation versus Intrinsic Motivation? Does strong motivation come from something within the person, or are people more motivated by the expectation of external, or extrinsic rewards.
- What is the relative influence of the Cognitive nature of motivation versus the Affective nature of motivation? Can motivation best explained as a process whereby individuals make deliberate choices among alternatives, or as a process based on emotion and passion?
This overview will attempt to clarify some of these issues related to motivational processes. Let's start with a definition of motivation. For our purposes, we will define Motivation as the force that Energizes, Directs, and Sustains behavior.
- Energies Behavior- What initiates a behavior, behavioral pattern, or a change in behavior? What determines the level of effort and how hard a person works? This aspect of motivation deals with the question of “What motivates people?” It attempts to explain the amount of effort or energy and individual puts into a task.
- Directs Behavior- What determines which behaviors an individual chooses among the alternative actions, behaviors, or problem solutions? This aspect of motivation deals with the question of choice and conflict among competing behavioral alternatives. It deals directly with the direction of one's effort.
- Sustains Behavior- What determines an individual's level of persistence with respect to behavioral patterns? Why do some individuals keep working at something long after others have quit? This aspect of motivation deals with how behavior is sustained and stopped. It deals with the persistence and consistency of behavior.
There are a number of approaches to the study of motivation, each containing a number of specific related theories. I will summarize the major assumptions of each approach along with prominent theories based on these assumptions. Each of these approaches explains a part of the puzzle. No one approach alone can explain the entire motivational process. Therefore, after discussing the “pure” approaches, I will discuss a number of ways in which these approaches can be integrated to form a more complete explanation of the motivational process.
These theories emphasize the role of stable dispositions in explaining the variability among individuals in the behavioral patterns. According to this group of theories, the amount and direction of effort displayed by an individual is viewed as a function of his or her makeup up. This first approach is based on the following set of assumptions:
- Individuals have a certain set of internal dispositions that is consistent across time and situations. We discussed a number of these dispositional variables in Module 1.
- These individual differences in values, needs, personality traits, and self-concept are strong predictors of how an individual responds to different situation contexts. They are a stronger predictor of behavior than the various factors in the situational context.
- The amount of effort and drive an individual exhibits is a function of his or her internal dispositions. In fact, motivation is more an internal trait that it is a function of external factors.
Dispositional or Content Theories
Need Theories. There are three major need theories with which you should become familiar. In general, while the type of needs each list of needs differ slightly among these theories, they all hold that an unsatisfied need is a source of individual motivation. That is, individuals will take actions that they believe will help them satisfy these unsatisfied needs. With respect to the various stages of the motivation process (energizing, directing, and sustaining), these theories are most applicable to be energizing stage of motivation. They attempt to explain what motivates individual behavior without particular attention to the process of deciding among behavioral alternatives. The main question that need theories attempt to answer is: What outcomes are individuals motivated to obtain at work? Since these theories are given full coverage in the textbook, I will not describe each here, but here is a short summary of each theory.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
- Physiological Needs- Basic needs for sustenance and shelter.
- Security Needs- The need to feel safe and secure. The need for a stable work environment.
- Belongingness Needs- The need to be part of a larger group, to be accepted and liked by others.
- Esteem Needs- The need to be valued by one's self and others as valuable contributor.
- Self-actualization Needs- The need to realize one's full potential.
- Alderfer's ERG Theory
- Existence Needs- They need for basic human needs and security/safety.
- Relatedness Needs- The need to have high quality relationships
- Growth Needs- Need for continued self-development and competency
- Murray/McClelland's Manifest Need Theory
- Need for Achievement- Need to perform challenging tasks and meet personal standards for excellence
- Need for Affiliation- Need to establish and maintain good relationships with others. Need for reassurance and approval from others.
- Need for Power- Need to exert emotional and behavioral influence over others.
Questions to ask when taking an Needs Theory approach to motivational analysis
- What are the motivators for your group of employees? What important needs are not been satisfied?
- How are differences in needs by which different employees in the workgroup are motivated?
- How can we structure the job so that employees can satisfy their needs through good performance (ERB) and long-term membership?
Self Concept Motivation Theory
Self Concept Motivation Theory (Leonard, Beauvais, & Scholl, 1999) attempts to explain the employee motivation in terms of employee's need to reinforce and validate his or her self-concept. The self-concept is viewed as a set of self-perceptions the individual holds about his or her competencies, traits, and values. A detailed description of the Self Concept Motivation Theory can be found on the Self Concept Motivation Model page. Here is a brief review of some of the postulates of the theory.
- The basic unit in this theory is one's social identity which consists of an individual's perception of his or her role in important reference groups. A social identity is the way in which individuals interact with the various groups with which they associate. Individuals often have multiple identities as they move between various facets of their lives. You most likely have identities has students, employees, sons/daughters, athletes, etc. (Remember George Costanza had problems integrating “Dating George” with “Friend George”).
- Within each social identity, an individual has perceptions of his or her competencies (important skills and abilities), traits (characteristic behavioral patterns), and values (preferences for outcomes and ideals).
- Individuals are, motivated to maintain, reinforce and enhance their perceptions and the perceptions of others of their traits, competencies, and values through behavior that is designed to elicit Task and Social Feedback that validates or affirms these self-perceptions.
- Feedback that invalidates self-perceptions causes dissonance that individuals are motivated to eliminate.
- Individuals vary in the importance of the Internal Self and the External Self. Self concept internals are motivated to validate their own standards and self-perceptions, while self concept externals are more focused on eliciting approval and affirmation from members of their reference group.
- Dominant Source of Motivation- While motivation in itself is not a dispositional variable, that there is no single internal variable termed motivation level within individuals that that is consistent across situations and time, there are a number of dispositional variables, such as values and self concept, that interact with situations in predictable ways to produce what often appears to a consistent level of motivation. An individual's dominant source of motivation is one such variable. While all individuals are motivated by all five sources of motivation at one time or another, we find that most individuals tend to be motivated by one source more than others.
Self Concept External Motivation
This source of motivation is focused on three types of external validation:
Acceptance. Feelings of approval and acceptance from members of one's workgroup. Perception that workgroup members and your boss like you.
Worth. Feelings that you or perceived by others as an important member in the functioning of your workgroup, organization, or team. Members respect your opinion and ideas.
Status. Feelings others believe that you are one of the best at what you do and that you are an integral and indispensable part of the organization, workgroup or team.
Self Concept Internal Motivation
SC INternal Motivation is focused on obtaining task feedback that validates one's:
Competencies. Much like achievement motivation, the individual engages in challenging activities designed to prove to himself of herself that that are good at something.
Values. The individual engages in activities that are consistent with his or her important values or moral code. Dissonance is created when he or she violates these personal standards of conduct.
Dimensions of Self Concept
Two important dimensions of the Self Concept are developed within individuals through experiences and interactions with others. These dimensions of the self concept are: level and strength.
Level of the Self Concept- The level of self perception refers to the degree to which the individual perceives he/she possesses this attribute. Does the individual see himself or herself as highly introverted (trait), or a very good tennis player (competency), or an honest and fair person (value)? This dimension deals with the issue of where individuals see themselves, relative to their ideal selves, and is directly related to the issue of high and low self esteem. It is manifested in High versus Low self concept. When determining the level of an attribute, individuals use two types of evaluative frames of reference.
An ordinal standard or frame of reference is used when the individual rates or compares himself or herself to others (i.e., how good is he or she relative to others). To be first or the best is the ultimate criterion when using this type of standard.
A fixed standard, whereby he/she rates or evaluates attributes against a goal or predetermined metric or criterion (i.e., to earn a bachelors' degree) can also be used. This may take the form of reaching a set of internalized goals or timetables.
Strength of the Self Concept- Strength is the second dimension of the perceived, and refers to how strongly the individual holds the perception of attribute level.
Strong Individuals with strong perceived selves are relatively firm and secure in their perceptions of an attribute level. These strong perceptions of self are a result of consistent and clear feedback regarding the attribute.
Weak A weak perceived self is reflected in individuals who are relatively unsure of an attribute level, often resulting from conflicting or ambiguous feedback regarding the attribute.
Self Concept Types
There are four basic Self Concept Types. The combined effects of Level and Strength are:
- High/Strong- These individual require relatively little validation of their self concept. Self concept motivation is relatively low.
- High/Weak- Individual believe that they are very good at something, but they are not secure in this belief. Therefore, they have a strong motivation to validate this competency, therefore self concept motivation is high.
- Low/Strong- These individuals have a strong belief in their lack of ability. This manifests in low motivation to enhance self perception because they believe there is little that they can do to improve their competencies. Therefore, self concept motivation is low.
- Low/Weak- Individuals of this type are characterized by low self efficacy (belief in their competency). However, this belief is not strong and they can be motivated to demonstrate that they can develop certain skills and competencies. Self concept motivation can be high
Questions to ask when taking an Self Concept approach to motivational analysis
- How do your employees define their identities?
- What Competencies, Traits, & Values are central to their work identities?
- Are the employee more inner (Self Concept Internal) or other (Self Concept External) directed?
- What self concept type are the employees (high/strong; high/weak; low/strong; low/weak)?
- How can the work situation be structured so that the self concepts are these employees are validated/affirmed through high performance (ERB) and continued long term membership?
Sources of Motivation Theory
This theory was developed in an attempt to integrate the many dispositional, need, and content theories into a single work motivation model (Leonard, Beauvais, & Scholl, 1995). To see how this model is related to many of these theories see Sources of Motivation Models. After examining many of the content based approaches to motivation (those theories that attempt to answer the question: What motivates membership and performance of people at work?), we determined that there are five fundamental sources of motivation. While most individuals are affected by all sources, each individual has a dominant source of motivation that is the prime focus of his or her behavior. The five sources are:
Intrinsic Process Motivation
Individuals primarily motivated by intrinsic process engage in activities which they consider enjoyable of fun. It is the performance of the task itself, rather than outcomes or results of the task that provide satisfaction. These individuals are often diverted from tasks that are relevant to goal attainment in order to pursue tasks which are intrinsically more enjoyable. Thus, as long as team tasks are enjoyable, these individuals will be motivated to continue working effectively in the context of the team. Since they are relatively indifferent to task and social feedback, such feedback will not serve to motivate continued performance on the part of the intrinsically motivated person.
Instrumental rewards are a motivating source when individuals believe that the behaviors they engage in will lead to certain outcomes such as pay, praise, etc. Rooted in exchange theory, the basic assumption is that individuals and organizations constitute an exchange relationship. Expectancy and equity theories are currently accepted models of motivation based on exchange relationships. Primary sources of instrumental motivation in work organizations are pay, benefits and promotion/advancement.
External Self Concept-Based Motivation
Self concept motivation is externally based when the individual is primarily other-directed. In this case, the ideal self is derived by adopting the role expectations of reference groups. The individual attempts to meet the expectations of others by behaving in ways that will elicit social feedback consistent with self perceptions. When positive task feedback is obtained, the individual finds it necessary to communicate these results to members of the reference or peer group. The individual behaves in ways which satisfy reference group members, first to gain acceptance, and after achieving that, to gain worth and status. These three needs, for acceptance, worth, and status, are similar to McClelland's (1961) need for affiliation and need for power. The individual continually strives to earn the acceptance and status of reference group members. This status orientation usually leads to an ordinal standard of self evaluation, in that it is important for the individual to be first, best, or other indicators of superiority over others.
Internal Self Concept-Based Motivation
Self concept motivation will be internally based when the individual is primarily inner-directed. Internal self concept motivation takes the form of the individual setting internal standards that become the basis for the ideal self. The individual tends to use fixed rather than ordinal standards of self measurement as he/she attempts to first, reinforce perceptions of competency, and later achieve higher levels of competency. This need for achieving higher levels of competency is similar to what McClelland (1961) refers to as a high need for achievement and Bandura (1986)identifies as personal standards. The motivating force for individuals who are inner-driven and motivated by their self concept is task feedback. It is important to these individual that their efforts are vital in achieving outcomes and that their ideas and actions are instrumental in performing a job well. It is not as important that others provide reinforcing feedback as is true for other-directed individuals.
Behavior is motivated by goal internalization when the individual adopts attitudes and behaviors because their content is congruent with their value system. The individual believes in the cause, and as such is willing to work towards the goals of an organization supporting this cause. Primary to this source is the individual's desire to benefit others independent from the effect of these efforts in securing increases pay (instrumental), recognition (self concept external), or achievement (self concept internal)
Questions to ask when taking a Sources of Motivation approach to motivational analysis
- What is the dominant source of motivation for your group of employees?
- How is good performance (ERB) and long term membership related to each of the five sources?
Cognitive Approach theories focus on the influence of individual choice and decision-making in explaining variances in employee behavior. The cognitive approach is based on the following set of assumptions:
- Individual behavior can best be explained as a decision process.
- Motivation is goal directed, that is, individual motivation can best be explained in terms of an individual's attempt to achieve certain personal goals.
- Individuals make rational choices among alternative actions/behaviors based on the perceived consequences of each of these behaviors, their relationship to goal attainment, and/or their relationship to need fulfillment.
- As the situation varies the individual's amount and direction of motivation changes in response to the changing perceived consequences of each behavioral alternative.
Expectancy Theory is the most often cited in most often used of the cognitive theories (Porter & Lawler, 1968). Its basic purpose is to explain how people make choices among behavioral alternatives. For example, how does one choose between two competing job offers, or between spending the night studying for an exam in the morning were going out with friends? It uses the concept of Motivational Force (MF). It posits that individuals develop a motivational force for each behavioral alternative under consideration. The alternative with the highest motivational force is the behavior that the individual chooses to exhibit. Motivational Force (MF) is a function of two cognitions and one value. The three components that are combined by the individual to arrive at a Motivational Force calculation are:
Expectancy. The belief that one's effort to lead to desire performance (Effort ® Performance). This is a cognitive component of an attitude. It is a probabilistic estimate by the individual of what will happen if he or she increases or decreases the amount of effort put into the job.
Instrumentality. The belief that high-performance lead to increased rewards (Performance ® Rewards). This component of expectancy theory is what makes motivation a contingent concept, that is, or motivation to exist in individual has to see some differential outcome associated with exhibiting a behavior or not exhibiting behavior. The rewards do not have to be tangible, such as pay and/or promotion, what can simply be differences and how one feels by either exhibiting Adequate Role Behavior (ARB) for extra role behavior (ERB).
Valence. Valence represents an individual's preference for each of the potential outcomes. For example, the value when places on increased pay vs. time off from the job represents differences in valance for each of these outcomes. Valances are a function of individual's values.
According to Expectancy Theory:
Motivational Force (MF) = Expectancy * Instrumentality * Valance.
What this model attempts to depict by this multiplicative relationship is that if any one of the components is zero, then motivational force will be zero and there will be of the motivation to perform a particular behavior or aspect of performance. For example, if either of the following is true about an upcoming exam, the motivational force to study for the exam will be zero, and you will be very unlikely to study for the exam:
Low Expectancy- You believe that no matter how hard to study, you will not be able to increase your performance on the exam.
Low Instrumentality- You believe that no matter how well you do on the exam, you will still get a "C" in the course.
Low Valence- You do not care about your grade in the course.
Both expectancy and instrumentality are cognitions, and as such are subject to change depending on a person's experience. It is also very important to note that these are perceptions by the individual of what he or she believes will happen, and what will actually happen. For example, you might believe that you can get an "A" in this course without participating in Class Discussion (which is not true). However it is you belief (Instrumentality) that will determine your behavior and not what will actually happen.
Somebody might start out highly motivated because he believes that his effort and Extra Role Behavior (ERB) will lead to high performance rating (Expectancy), a high performance rating will lead to increase pay and a promotion (Instrumentality), any values both pay and promotion (Valence). However, it after working very hard he gets a low evaluation, his expectancy is likely to decline. Likewise, it despite getting excellent performance ratings he gets the same pay raise has those with minimally acceptable ratings, is instrumentality perception is likely to decline. Either case is likely to lead to a decrease in motivational force to exhibit ERB.
Questions to ask when taking an Expectancy Theory approach to motivational analysis
If the answer to any of these questions is "No," there is a potential motivational problem
- Are there intrinsic and/or extrinsic outcomes associated with good performance that our value to the individuals (Valence)?
- Do individuals believe they have the skills required to perform successfully (Expectancy)?
- Are performance goals set at a level that is achievable by these individuals (Expectancy)?
- Do individuals have control over performance outcomes, or are there other variables that have a strong influence over reforms that are out of control of these individuals (Expectancy)?
- Do individuals believe that good performance will actually affect valued outcomes (Instrumentality)?
- Do individuals trust the organization and its managers (Instrumentality)?
- Do individuals have control over the distribution of rewards and the relationship to performance (Instrumentality)?
Like Expectancy Theory, this approach to motivational analyses uses a decision making framework to explain individual behavior. This theory posits that individuals develop a balance sheet approach to choosing among behavioral alternatives and in doing so, they evaluate the Pros and Cons associated with a behavior. Pros and cons are evaluated with respect to four different expected outcomes. These outcome categories are very similar to the sources of motivation. These categories are (consistency with Sources of Motivation indicated in parentheses):
- Instrumental Gains for Self (Instrumental)
- Instrumental Gains of Others (Goal Internalization)
- Approval from Others (Self Concept External)
- Self Approval (Self Concept Internal)
Questions to ask when taking a Decisional Balance approach to motivational analysis
- What do employees see as the pros associated with good performance (ERB) and continued membership?
- What do employees see as the cons associated with good performance (ERB) and continued membership?
- What can be done to increase the perceived pros for good performance (ERB) and continues membership?
- What can be done to eliminate or reduce the perceived cons for good performance (ERB) and continues membership?
Goal Setting Theory
Goal Setting Theory holds that individual develop a set of conscious goals that are the primate focus of their behavior. Individuals make choices among behavioral alternatives based on the belief that these behaviors will be instrumental in achieving these goals. Goal setting theory posits that certain perceived characteristics of individual goals affect the individual's motivation to achieve them. Furthermore, when goals have these attributes, they tend to lead to higher levels of performance. These goal attributes are:
- Goal Specificity is the degree to which a goal is stated in clear and specific terms. Highly specific goals have four characteristics:
- Content- What is the focus of the goal (e.g., improved quality, increased speed, reduced wastes, etc.)
- Measure/Indicator- How is achievement of the goal assessed? What metric is used to determine success (e.g., return rate, days, grades, etc.)?
- Level- What level of performance is required for success? (e.g., reduce the number of rejected parts to 5% of total pats produced)
- Time- When is the goal expected to be met?
- Goal Difficulty refers to how hard the goal is to achieve. In general, difficult goals lead to higher levels of performance than easy or moderate goals, assuming the goal is not too difficult to achieve.
- Goal Acceptance is the degree to which employees agree with the goal and are willing to attempt to achieve it.
- Goal Commitment is the degree to which goal attainment personally benefits an employee (either in terms of extrinsic rewards, recognition, or validation of personal standards)
Questions to ask when taking a Goal Setting approach to motivational analysis
- Do employees have performance goals? Do they know what they are?
- Are employees goals related to securing, maintaining, and enhancing competitive advantage?
- Are goals specific, sufficiently difficult, accepted and relevant to employees?
- How can goals be made more specific, sufficiently difficult, accepted and relevant to employees?
In its basic form, control theory presents a framework for analyzing work motivation and organizational problems solving (Klein, 1989). It allows us to think of behavior and decision making as a cybernetic system, whereby an individual develops expectations, plans and executes actions, receives environmental feedback, compares feedback to expectations and adjusts behavior accordingly. Control theory also presents a useful framework for thinking about behavioral change. Here are the basic tenets of control theory:
Control theory asserts that behavior can be viewed as a feedback loop consisting of four elements
Elements in a control system. The best way to think about control theory is to envision the simple cybernetic control system that heats & cools your room. This system has a number of elements:
- Referent Standard- A goal or standard for evaluating the “results” of behavior. In the heating system, this element is the temperature at which the thermostat is set.
- Sensor- Monitoring element. In the heating system, this element is the thermostat devise.
- Comparator- The element that compares the sensor reading to the referent standard.
- Effector- The element that is capable to bringing about a change in sensor reading. In the heating system, this element is the furnace or A/C unit.
Heating/cooling example: The referent standard is set to 70º. An input is received by the sensor (room temperature is 65º). The comparator compares the senor reading or 65º with the referent standard of 70º and signals the effector (furnace) of the discrepancy and to turn on. When the room temperature reaching 70º, sensor notes this, the comparator determines there is no longer a discrepancy and signal the effector to turn off.
Human Control System: Assume that you are taking an advanced programming course. You decide you want to get an A in this course (referent standard), you spend 2 hours on the first program (effector: time and effort). You get back your first program with a grade of 82 (sensor). You calculate that you will not get an A with 82 level work (comparator) and increase the amount of time and effort you spend on the second program (effector).
While the human behavioral control system is far more complex and flexible than its mechanical counterpart, control theory provides some insight into the stability and change of behavior.
The Behavioral Approach
The behavioral approach is based on the following set of assumptions:
- Individual behavior is a function of stimulus - response reactions. It is not important to understand what goes on “inside the head” of the individual.
- Behavior is a function of its consequences. Behaviors that are followed by positive reinforcers (consequences) have a strong likelihood of being repeated. Likewise, behavior that is followed by unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated.
- Individual motivation can be changed and behavior modified by changing reinforcement schedules, that is, the consequences of exhibited behavior.
- The behavioral approach is based largely on what is termed operant conditioning, which is learning that takes place when a person recognizes the relationship between behavior and its consequences.
Reinforcement/Learning Theory is dominant behavioral theory. It is based on two fundamental concepts: Types of Reinforcement and Reinforcement Schedules.
Types of Reinforcement. There or four basic types of reinforcement. Two of these types of reinforcement act to encourage desired behavior (positive reinforcement and native reinforcement) while the other two act to reduce the probability of existing behavioral patterns (punishment and extinction). It is important to note that reinforcement can either be socially or naturally applied. Social application means that another individual is attempting to modify your behavior by controlling the type of reinforcement and reinforce the schedule. Natural reinforcement occurs when conditions in the environment reinforce the behavior without human intervention. Also, many textbooks refer to increasing the likelihood of desired behavior. What type of behavior is desired is a function of who is evaluating this behavior. What may be desired behavior for your boss, maybe undesired behavior from the perspective of your co-workers and friends.
- Positive Reinforcement increases the probability that an exhibited behavior will occur again in the future by following this behavior with a positive reinforcer (consequence that is desirable to the individual). Positive reinforcers may include bonuses, promotions, public recognition, verbal praise, physical pleasure, etc.
- Negative Reinforcement also increases the likelihood that a given behavior will be exhibited again. Negative reinforcement occurs when an undesirable consequence is removed as result of the behavior. For example, suppose you're feeling stressed out over an upcoming exam. If spending time studying for the exam removes the stress, the studying behavior will be reinforced. Likewise, if going out drinking removes the stressful feeling, then that behavior will be reinforced.
- Punishment has the effect of decreasing the likelihood of exhibited behaviors by following these behaviors with undesirable consequence. It is important to understand that punishment does not increase behavior and does not generate potential for Extra Role Behavior, but it's only capable of eliminating behavior that is undesirable from the point of view of the individual doing the reinforcing. From a management perspective, one might be successful in eliminating certain undesirable behaviors, but punishment alone, we have little control over what you behaviors might replace these undesirable behaviors.
- Extinction reduces the likelihood that a given behavior will occur by eliminating any positive reinforcement that is motivating that behavior. According to operant conditioning principles, for a behavioral pattern to be maintained, it must be continually reinforced. Removing the source of reinforcement will eliminate behavioral pattern.
Reinforcement Schedules described the pattern of reinforcement that is applied to a given behavioral pattern. There are five basic reinforcement schedules:
- Continuous Reinforcement- A behavior is reinforced every time that it occurs
- Fixed Interval Reinforcement- A behavior is reinforced based on a fixed time based schedule
- Variable Interval Reinforcement- The period of time between instances in which the behaviors reinforced, varies
- Fixed Ratio Reinforcement- Behavior is reinforced every nth time the behavior is exhibited, where n is a constant number of instances.
- Variable Ratio Reinforcement- Behavior is reinforced every nth time the behavior is exhibited, where n is a variable number of instances.
Social Learning Theory differs from reinforcement theory in that it recognizes the role of vicarious learning in developing individual patterns of behavior. It recognizes that individuals may develop associations between behaviors and outcomes by observing the effects of behaviors exhibited by others. In other words, it argues that you do not have to be ridiculed when you speak out in class to learn that incorrect answers are followed by undesirable consequences, but you can learn this by watching your friend get ridiculed. Social learning theory attempts to bridge the gap between pure behavioral theories and cognitive theories of motivation. It recognizes that while pure reinforcement schedules account for some of our behavior patterns, much of what we do is based on observation of the behavior of others.
Questions to ask when taking a Behavior approach to motivational analysis
- What specific desired behaviors are not being exhibited by your employees?
- What positive consequences follow these behaviors when they are exhibited?
- Do your employees value these consequences?
- If no positive consequences are closely associated with desire behavior, what positive reinforcers can be added?
- What specific undesired behaviors are being exhibited by employees?
- What were the positive reinforcers of this undesired behavior?
- Can these positive reinforcers be removed?
- Can negative consequences be associated with these undesired behaviors?
The Affective Approach
The affective approach is based on the following set of assumptions:
- Individual behavior can best be explained by an individual's reaction to his or her affective or emotional state.
- Individuals seek to achieve a positive affective state and avoid a negative affective state.
- Behavior is often an “irrational” response to an emotional reaction. An “irrational” response is defined as the behavior response in which the individual does not consider the likely consequences of his or her actions (which one would do given a cognitive approach).
Affective Motivation Theory- There are a number of ways in which our emotions, or our affective state, are involved in the motivation of behavior. Remember that motivation is the force that energizes, directs, and sustains behavior. How are emotions involved in these three forces?
- Individuals exist in, and move among, one of three Affective States:
- Positive Affective State- The individual is experiencing positive feelings, such as relaxation, excitement, pleasure, or joy.
- Neutral Affective State- The individual is experiencing little or no feelings at the present time.
- Negative Affective State- The individual is experiencing negative feelings and emotions such as emotional pain, anxiety, guilt, frustration, boredom, or anger.
- Individuals develop emotional memories, called somatic markers, associated with people, organizations, events, and objects which are part of their experiences. For example, individuals who consistently find themselves in a negative affect the state (e.g., anxiety) when taking exams, would most likely develop a negative somatic marker associated with exam taking. These somatic markers form the basis of the affective attitude component associated with attitude objects.
Postulates of Affective Motivation Theory- From an affective perspective, what energies, directs and sustains behavior? (Note: most theorist belief that behavior is result of a complex combination of, or conflict between, cognitive and affective processes. Neither process alone, or in its pure state, explains behavior; except for Mr. Spock, Commander Data, & Professor Hickox)
Energizing Behavior. Behavior is energized when individuals experience a negative affect the state (negative reinforcement). They are most likely to change behavior while in a negative affective state in order to eliminate these feelings. For example, individuals feeling guilty are likely to behave in ways that eliminates this guilt; individuals experiencing boredom or likely to change to a more interesting or exciting activity (such as starting a fight with a sibling). When the negative affect its state is extremely strong, there is considerable pressure to relieve it. In this case, the individual may respond in a totally reactive or impulsive manner. This is referred to as emotional hijacking or amygdala hijacking. For example, an individual listening to repeated “personal attacks” on his character by his boss at a meeting, may abruptly stand up and leave, or start shouting at the boss.
Directing Behavior. From a cognitive perspective, individuals choose among alternative actions through a process of deriving the logical consequences of alternative actions and comparing alternatives against a set of criteria unencumbered by passion (see: Expectancy Theory). On the other hand, we all know that we often use "gut feelings" in making choices. When we make decisions on the feelings associated with each of our alternatives, we are using an affective choice process. In the pure affective process, we rank order alternatives on the basis of the somatic marker associated with each alternative: ranking the alternative of the most positive somatic marker first and so on. In many cases our choice process involves visualization of ourselves enacting each of the alternatives. This visualization process enhances our ability to invoke the somatic marker (emotional response) of each alternative. The specific visualization (which is based on our past experiences) has a direct impact on the type of emotional response evoked. For example, if I am considering whether or not to go skiing, it depends on what visualization comes to mind while I am making my choice. If my visualization is focused on getting up extremely early, a long drive, and the slushy conditions I experienced on my last trip to Stratton Mountain, this particular visualization is likely to revoke a negative semantic marker. On the other hand if I am focused on a perfect day, on a perfectly groomed mountain, with no cares in the world, a positive somatic marker is likely to be evoked.
In the case of emotional hijacking, the chosen behavior is the result of automatic connection between stimulus and response. Frustration Instigated Behavior is one form of emotional hijacking whereby individual feels pressure to act in response in one of four characteristic manners: (a) aggression, (b) resignation, (c) regression, or (d) fixation.
Sustaining Behavior. Positive reinforcement stabilizes a particular behavioral pattern. When we are experiencing a positive affect the state, we tend to continue what we're doing. For example, if we're having fun at a party, we often stay longer than expected, despite the fact that we have a test early the next day.
Goleman (1995) is generally credited with developing the term and concept of emotional intelligence. The Emotional Intelligence Model deals with how individuals respond to felt emotions with behavioral responses. For example, a very excited person may scream out an exclamation of joy, an angry person may storm out of a meeting, or a frustrated person may pound a desk. While he did not present a specific model, a basic model using his precepts looks like this:
Emotional Intelligence Skills refer to individual skills and competencies that allow people to deal with their own emotions (Individual Level) and the emotions of others (Interpersonal Level).
The Individual Level
This approach deals with how an individuals experience situations and how they monitor/control/regulate their responses.
Awareness/Managing Emotions. The ability to control and affect ones emotional state; limit the effects of social feedback on your emotions, and in general, block the effect of triggers on your emotional state.
- Understanding one's own emotions
- Understanding the causes of one's feelings
- Becoming aware of one's "hot" buttons
- Developing frustration tolerance
- Strengthening one's self concept, and reducing one's dependence on external validation
- Interpretation of meaning- learning how to better interpret the meaning of the actions of others in terms of your own self concept.
- Becoming able to produce positive affective states in oneself through visioning and other techniques.
- Development of positive outlook (optimism)
Motivation. The ability to control the behavioral effects of negative emotions (e.g., anger, fear, anxiety) and perform in a positive way even when emotional state is negative. Individuals high in this skill are likely to react to negative (disconfirming feedback) by attempting to diagnosis the causes of low performance and actually increase their effort directed at improving performance. Their counterparts with low skill development in this area are likely to quit at the first sign of failure or invalidation.
- Self Control
- Self Motivation- The ability to perform despite lack of "passion."
- Self Regulation
The Interpersonal Level
This approach deals with the way in which individuals influence the emotions and behavior of others. These skills are often referred to as interpersonal or social skills
EMPATHY. The ability to understand and affect the emotional states of others.
- The ability to "read" the emotions and emotional states of others.
- The ability to determine the situations/triggers that cause various emotional states in others.
- The ability to evoke positive and negative emotions states in others. This often involves understanding the self concept and identity of others to avoid negative affect by invalidation (offending) and to evoke positive affect by affirmation (positive reinforcement).
- Conflict/Negotiation skills- The ability to advocate your positions/interests without invalidating the positions/interests of other parties
INFLUENCE- The ability to influence the behavior of others; motivating them in low emotional states; calming them in aggravated emotional states.
- Conflict resolution techniques- The ability to develop win/win solutions to conflicts.
- Relationship Building- The ability to develop trust and build high quality relationships with others
- Motivation- The ability to energize and the direct the behavior of others despite low emotional states Control- The ability to moderate the behavioral responses of others to aggravated emotional states through such techniques as "active listening."
Integration & Conflict of Approaches
As you probably figured out by now, no one approach by itself explains the complexity of human behavior. Each approach is valid to some degree and is invalid in explaining some aspects of behavior. There are two ways of looking at the integration of the various approaches. The conflict paradigm examines how different motivation forces conflict with one another creating intrapersonal conflict, that is, conflict within the individual. The integration paradigm looks at how various approaches combine and complement each other in providing a more complete explanation and prediction of individual behavior. Here are a few ways in which each of the paradigms can be applied.
Conflict Approaches assume that individuals process information in various ways simultaneously. Sometimes the results of these multiple processes lead to different assessments and decisions as to how to behave. The two most often studied types of conflict result from the following:
Cognitive versus Dispositional. This is the case in which the individual is confronted with conflict between his or her disposition (Traits, values, needs, etc.) and the perceived requirements from the situation. Resultant behavior (that is, how this conflict is resolved) is a function of the strength of the disposition and the strength of the situation.
Cognitive versus Affective. This type of interpersonal conflict has often been referred to as the Want vs. Should conflict (Bazerman, Tenbrunsel, & Wade-Benzoni, 1998), whereby individuals face conflict between their immediate affective state and their expectation of the future consequences of their behavior. Employees sometimes must choose between jobs they want versus jobs they think they should take. You often must choose between wanting to go to a party and studying when you believe that you should study for an exam. To some degree, this type of conflict is affected by the individual's emotional intelligence and his or her ability to control the behavioral response to emotions. This conflict has been posed as a conflict between your two selves with the Should Self representing the more rational, cognitive, thoughtful, and cool headed and the Want Self representing you irrational, affective, impulsive, and hot headed side. Researchers have found that the following generalizations can be made about how individuals resolve this type of intrapersonal conflict.
- The Want Self has the greatest influence at the moment of the decision, while the Should Self is more influential before and after the decision is made. Often long before individuals are required to act, they base their decisions (intended actions) on what they believe they should do. As the event approaches, the Want Self takes over and the individual behaves more in line with the desires of the Want Self. You know that you should go home next weekend to help your parents and you tell them that you will go. As the weekend approaches, you change your mind and decide to stay with your friends at school.
- When considering one behavioral option at a time, the Want Self generally prevails. When considering multiple behavioral options simultaneously, the Should Self tends to have the most influence.
- The more an individual's behavior will be public and he or she feels they need to justify that behavior, the more the Should Self influences the decision process.
Integrative or Complementary Approaches examine the way in which individuals' dispositions affect their cognitive processes, their emotions influence their cognitive processes, and how affective and behavioral processes are combined. Here are a few ways in which various motivational approaches can be looked at a combination to form a better total picture of individual motivation.
Cognitive & Dispositional
Big 5 and Expectancy Theory- According to the Big 5 personality theory, individuals vary in their predispositions towards optimism and pessimism. This has a direct impact on an individual's assessment of Expectancies and Instrumentalities in developing a motivational force for a particular action. Optimists a more likely to use the “best case scenario” in assessing expectancies and instrumentality leading to higher estimates of these cognitions and thus a higher motivational force to act. Pessimists are more likely to use the “worst-case scenario,” thus leading to a low motivational force to act.
- Valance and Values- An important element in Expectancy Theory is the valance of expected outcomes an individual uses for assessing motivational force. An individual's values are the major determinant of what outcomes have high valence.
- Valance and Sources of Motivation- Another way to look at valance in Expectancy Theory is to use an individual's dominant source of motivation as the determining of outcome balance.
- Expectancy and Self Concept- Another important element in Expectancy Theory is the expectancy, that is the perception that one's effort to lead to desired performance. An individual's self-concept, specifically his or her self-efficacy, will be a major determinant of this expectancy belief.
- Goal Setting and Self Concept- Goal achievement is an important form of task feedback that the individual uses to affirm and validate his or her competencies. The degree to which we accept, internalize, and are motivated to achieve goals is largely a function of how accomplishment of these goals can be used to validate our competencies and sense of worth.
Cognitive & Affective
- Influence of emotion on beliefs- As rational decision makers, we attempt to objective assessing expectancies and instrumentalities. However, there is often a strong, and sometimes unknown, effect of our emotions in determining these cognitive beliefs.
- Valance as an emotional variable- While instrumental values can be determined through a logical and cognitive process, there is no rational way to determine which fundamental outcomes have more value (terminal values). For example, the choice as to which is more important; our careers or our families, is fundamentally an emotional one rather than a rational one. This is to say that terminal values are essentially emotional in nature.
Behavioral & Affective
- Negative reinforcement and affective motivation. From an affective motivation perspective, new behavior is initiated as result of individuals being in a negative affective state. From a behavioral perspective negative reinforcement is operative when individual engages in a behavior in order to remove a negative reinforcer. Much of what we view as positive reinforcers and negative reinforcers can better be explained in terms of affective states.
- Continuance of Behavior- One of the reasons why we engage in behavior longer than we expected (e.g., stay too long at a party) is that while engaging this behavior will remain in a very positive affective state which acts to reinforce the continuance of behavior.
Dispositional & Affective/Cognitive
- In resolving the want verses should conflict (affective vs. cognitive), an individual's cognitive style has a strong impact on how the individual responds in terms feeling vs. thinking. Thinking Types tend to resolve this conflict more in terms of the rational of cognitive deliberations while Feeling Types are more prone to rely on the affectively based choice processes.
- Many people experience a Negative Emotional State (anxiety, tension, uneasiness) when they feel forced with the situation to act in manner that is in conflict with their dispositions. In other words, they are acting “out of character” or against their preferences in a strong situation. For example, a strong Perceiving Type forced to follow a confining structure or a strong Judging Type found in a class without any structure are likely to experience negative emotion. In some cases, this might lead to a strong behavioral response or emotional hijacking.
- Another very prominent emotional trigger is the invalidating behavior of an important referent. Most individuals feel anger, resentment, or disappointment when confronted with invalidation. In fact, many believe (including myself) that most anger is induced by some form of invalidation. Differences in the strength of one's self concept have a strong influence on how an individual perceives the behavior of another (as to whether it is invalidating or not) and the degree to which invalidation causes a negative emotional reaction. Finally, an individual's emotion intelligence (self control) influences the degree to which he or she responds behaviorally to the emotional reaction.
Motivational Inducement Systems
Motivational Inducement Systems are the tools that a manager uses to create a motivating work environment. They represent what employees view as the “work situation.” These inducement systems were introduced in Module 1, but I will repeat their definition here for increased emphasis. Each of these inducing systems will be covered in detail in future modules.
The Reward Inducement System includes the pay and benefits structure of the organization. The level of pay has a major influence on the employee membership decision among other patterns and behavior. Motivation to exhibit high levels of Extra Role Behavior (ERB) is often tied to the design of the compensation system. The compensation programs such as commissions, incentive pay, merit pay, profit sharing, and gainsharing all have a potential impact on employee performance motivation.
The Managerial Inducement System is comprised of the leadership styles used by the employees' managers. The way that these managers make decisions, provide feedback, assign work, and recognize performance combine to provide a critical element of the employees work environment. Changes in this inducement system designed to increase employee motivation involve changing the leadership style of supervisors and managers. This inducement system is covered in detail in
The Task Inducement System involves the design of the employee's job and role requirements. How much responsibility and autonomy the employee is given are functions of the design of the employee's job. Additional factors such as the significance of tasks performed and the relationship to the success of the organization as well as the degree to which the employee can see the results of his or her work are also important job design considerations. Taken as a whole, these job design factors comprise a major component of the employee's work environment. Motivational improvement programs such as job rotation, job enlargement, job enrichment, and the development of work teams are task systems approves to increasing employee work motivation. This inducement system is covered in detail in
The Social Inducement System is formed by the group dynamics of the employee's workgroup and organization. Peer expectations and feedback often have a direct bearing on how the employee behaves in the organizational setting as individuals attempt to gain acceptance, affirmation of worth, and status from their peers. This system of group dynamics is often referred to the culture of the workgroup or organization. Changing organizational or workgroup culture is the motivational approach taken with respect to this inducement system.
Another way of looking at motivation is from the perspective of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. From this perspective, there are three fundamental types of motivation based on the degree to which the task or activity itself is enjoyable/pleasurable and the perceived outcomes from engaging in the task. For the purposes of explanation, I will use the following shortcuts in describing tasks (These are my terms and you will not find reference to them anywhere in the management literature, but I find them helpful):
Green Tasks are tasks or activities we find physically and/or emotionally pleasurable or enjoyable. In other words, the individual is having fun purely from engaging in these behaviors. Tasks may be perceived as green to individuals because while they engaging in these tasks, their social identities are being validated as they are engaged in the activity. In other words, they are received affirming task or social feedback as they are performing, as opposed to receiving this feedback at the conclusion of the activity. Another way of looking at Green Tasks is that they are tasks in which the individual is in a Positive Affective State while engaging in these tasks. What is a green task for some might not be for others. For example, while I might find skiing to be a green task, some of you might find it stressful and cold and not find any enjoyment in the activity. For the later, it is a red task
Yellow Tasks are activities that are neutral in terms of physical and emotional pleasure. While the individual does not find these tests enjoyable, he or she is not uncomfortable, bored, or stressed while engaging in these activities. The individual is in a Neural Affective State when engaged in these activities.
Red Tasks are those activities and behaviors that you find distasteful in some way. You might be physically uncomfortable while engaging in these tasks, or engaging in these activities by result in some form of emotional discomfort ( Negative Affective State) such as stress/anxiety, boredom, anger, frustration, etc.
The Three Types of Motivation can be described as follows:
Type I Motivation. Extrinsic Motivation- In pure extrinsic motivation the task is either yellow or red, that is, the task is providing no direct source of motivation. Individuals engage in these neutral or distasteful tasks because they expect some form of extrinsic reward (e.g., pay, promotion, time off, a good grade, etc.) as a result of performance of this activity. In Type I motivation, engagement in the task can be viewed as a cost with the expected extrinsic reward being the benefit. For Type I motivation to occur, individuals must perceive that the rewards are greater than the cost. Therefore, the more emotionally or physically unpleasing the task is, the greater the extrinsic reward must be to motivate individuals to perform these tasks.
Type II Motivation. Intrinsic Outcome Motivation- Like Type I motivation, in Type II motivation the task is either yellow or red. Individuals engage in these tasks because they believe that performance, or achieving some desired outcome, will result in some form of intrinsic satisfaction. This might take the form of self-concept external motivation, self-concept internal motivation, or goal identification. When individuals believe that doing these yellow or red activities will lead to external validation, self-concept external motivation is involved. Self-concept internal motivation is involved when individuals perform undesirable activities to validate their own perceptions of competency or values. Individuals performing these types of activities because they believe these activities will eventually benefit others are motivated by goal internalization. Whatever the type of intrinsic outcome and how satisfying this outcome might be, performance of the activities or tasks still represent a cost to the individual which must be overcome by the expected intrinsic satisfaction derived from external validation, internal validation, or seeing others benefit from these activates. When the expected intrinsic satisfaction does not materialize, Type II motivation declines.
Type III Motivation. Intrinsic Process Motivation- Activities motivated through Type III motivation are green tasks. These activities are often engaged in regardless of the outcome or expected results. Motivation to engage in these tasks is solely based on the expectation of continued enjoyment or pleasure.
Diagnosing Motivational Problems in Organizations
Previously, I presented a model of Behavioral Problem Solving. In this model, a couple of important points were made. These points are:
- It is important to identify performance problems in terms of actual employee behavior, free from attribution of causes. Elimination of the Behavioral Gap should be the focus of behavioral problem solving process.
- The first step in behavioral diagnosis is the performance of the first level diagnosis. In this step, you determine which of the four fundamental causes of less than desirable performance is the cause of the performance/behavioral gap. These four causes are:
- Ability and skills
- Role perceptions and expectations
- Lack of required resources
- Insufficient effort/low motivation
- When it is determined that low motivation is a contributing factor to the behavioral gap, you should move into a motivational analysis. At this point, you will use any of the motivational theories covered in this module that you find appropriate. Here are two diagnostic models that you might find helpful:
- Motivational diagnosis using Expectancy Theory and the Sources of Motivation Model
- Motivational diagnosis using Expectancy Theory and the Inducement Systems Model
Changing Behavioral Patterns of Individuals within Organizations
The final behavioral model I want to present in this module attempts to explain how and why individuals change their behavioral patterns. The concept of behavioral change assumes that individuals are relatively consistent in the way they behave. In other words, they exhibit Cross Situational Behavioral Consistency. The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of behavioral change (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1994) argues that individuals go through a number of stages in moving from one behavioral pattern to another. When managers wish to bring about behavior change in their employees, is important to understand in which stage of change they find their employees. Different change processes are required to move individuals out of each stage and into the next.
The five change stages are:
- Precontemplation is the stage at which there is no intention to change behavior in the foreseeable future. Many individuals in this stage are unaware of problems or that there is a need for change.
- Contemplation is the stage in which individuals have identified a problem. In this stage, they are deciding whether or not there is a need to take action to correct the problem. Do the pro & cons of change outweigh the pro & cons of maintaining present behavioral pattern?
- Preparation is a stage entered into once the individual decides there is a need to take some action. Specific plans of action are developed in this stage as the individual chooses among alternative potential solutions.
- Action is the stage in which individuals put their plans into action and change their behavioral patterns.
- Maintenance is the stage in which people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained during action.
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