Exploring Different Motivational Theories and Concepts


  Exploring Different Motivational Theories and Concepts

Many motivational theories and concepts exist. While each theory and concept is different, they all have one thing in common: the idea that individuals can be motivated to change their own attitudes, behaviors, or performance levels.

One of the most widely researched theories is self-determination theory. This theory suggests that three basic needs must be met for optimal motivation: autonomy (or control over one's actions), competence (having a sense of mastery in what they do), and relatedness or social connection with other people. Theorists suggest these needs are universal; therefore different combinations of these needs may result in motivation to change behavior as well as performance levels in academics, sports, business etc.
Use of these definitions are subjective as human behaviors can have many aspects. These aspects combined into a source of positive "psychological phenomena" that can motivate one to take actions. So, the way to describe or classify motivation is through these definitions: A behavior (or level or performance) is motivated when it is chosen in order to achieve a set of outcomes that satisfy motives , which constitute psychological phenomena – which can be classified into three types: intrinsic, extrinsic or internal-external motivation. " Motivation" often follow "reward and reinforcement theory" because they share the same idea and are related due to the fact that both concepts relate with outcomes.

The extrinsic or external motivation orientation (often called "extrinsic motivation") occurs when the behavior is chosen in order to gain some outcome or reward, such as money, status, fame, etc. In other words, extrinsic motivation refers to a situation where a person performs a certain behavior for the purpose of obtaining some reward from outside. For example, if an individual was offered money by his boss in exchange for achieving a sales target and that individual achieves the desired target (own behavior) then this type of reward would be classified as extrinsic motivation. The extrinsic motivational orientation is based on an externality between goals and means where there is no causal relationship between them. An individual who uses this orientation does not necessarily show a lowering of performance when external rewards are discarded. The extrinsic motivational orientation can be broken down into further sub-types, such as social and economic extrinsic motivation. The economic extrinsic motivation is subdivided into two types: money and profit-oriented (e.g., a salesperson earning money for selling certain products) and non-economic, which includes all other types of external compensation (e.g., status, fame).

An example of an internal or social extrinsic reward is the acknowledgment one receives for making a good first impression . First impressions are created over the course of a short interaction with another person. The individual making the good impression wants to get positive reactions (e.g., smiles and compliments) and wants to avoid negative reactions (e.g., frowns, criticism, disapproval). The result is that the individual behaves in a way that makes him or her appear favorable to the other person by acting in such a way as to elicit positive reactions from them. To achieve these goals, the individual tailors his or her responses based on what he or she thinks will please this other person and get positive responses from them. This involves (consciously or unconsciously) fashioning one's self-presentation to meet the approval of others as much as possible (cf. the deliberate use of stereotypic behavior , engaging in the desired behavior, and hoping for a favorable reaction) and trying to avoid behaviors that are likely to result in negative reactions from others. In other words, the individual behaves in such a way as not to elicit negative feedback from others, but instead seeks out positive feedback.
The social extrinsic motivation is closely related to the economic extrinsic motivational orientation. That is, the individual is seeking social rewards (e.g., status, fame). Therefore, it can be seen that by interacting with others who are important to us or appearing friendly or warm towards them we might be able to achieve a certain goal such as status recognition.
The "internal" or intrinsic motivation occurs when the behavior is chosen for its own sake – for the enjoyment or benefit it provides. This motivational orientation is based on internal causation; there is a causal relationship between the individual's behavior and the outcome he or she desires. For example, an individual who would rather do something that brings him or her pleasure than to do something that wouldn't bring him or her any kind of pleasure would be classified as an intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to actions that are performed for their own sake, rather than for external rewards (e.g., extrinsic rewards). Intrinsic motivation can be subdivided into two categories: introjected and externalized. Introjected intrinsic motivation is when the reward for a behavior comes from within, such as enjoying new activities with friends, independent of their possible rewards, because they are enjoyable in and of themselves. Externalized intrinsic motivation is when there are no immediate rewards but the individual continues with the behavior because she or he feels that it is a good investment or worthwhile for future gain (e.g., doing homework).

In addition to these theoretical frameworks, research on motivation has identified several types of extrinsic motivation that are referred to in many different ways by different theorists. A few researchers have also looked at a category they label as amotivation. Each of these is described briefly below.

Everyday activities can be divided into those that are done for the reward or payoff and those that are done for the sake of doing them. This difference is thought to explain why people who are paid to do what they do not enjoy tend to quit before they begin, but when they like what they do, their enjoyment fuels the activity and transforms it into work. Enjoyment or pleasure from an activity is its "intrinsic motivation". Intrinsic motivation has been studied by many researchers and has several subdivisions.

The concept of flow, introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does to such a degree that nothing else seems to matter; it is an extreme form of intrinsic motivation. Flow is characterized by a sense of personal control over the situation or environment; it is the opposite of passive amusement.

Conclusion: People in a flow state have been shown to frequently experience a state of well-being or happiness while performing the activity.

Deep involvement in an activity for its own sake, rather than for any external or ego-oriented reasons, is called flow. Flow occurs when there is a balance between challenges and skills, resulting in full concentration on what one is doing. This concept has origins with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi but his ideas are popularized by Csíkszentmihályi and Jackson (1999). Flow theory suggests that people are happiest when they have time to fully experience flow activities.

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