Theories of Motivation

The sections that follow will present each of the major theories of motivation in a very broad fashion. The reader is encouraged to consult the cited references for more in-depth explanations of each of these theories. Note that the theories are presented chronologically in the same order they appear in Table 8.1.

Instinct Theory of Motivation

The instinct theory of motivation suggests that all living beings are supplied with innate tendencies that enable them to remain viable. The theory suggests that motivational behaviors are driven by instincts, where instincts are goal-directed and which have intrinsic tendencies that are not the result of learning or prior experience.

Wilhelm Wundt [1832-1920], the father of experimental psychology, coined the term instinct as a psychological term in the 1870s. Fellow psychologist William James [1842-1910] defined an instinct as an action which will “produce certain ends, without foresight of the ends, and without previous education in the performance” (James, 1887c, p. 355). James believed that motivation through instinct was

Motivation theory and principal proponent (in chronological order)

Bowditch, Buono, and Stewart

(2008)

Roeckelein

(2006)

C

P

E

H

CO

G

1. Instinct theory of motivation (James, 1887a, b, c; McDougall, 1901)

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2. Drive reduction theory (Hull, 1943, 1950)

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3. Hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1943, 1967, 1987)

?

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4. Attribution theory (Heider, 1944; Kelley, 1973; Weiner, 1972, 1985)

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5. Reinforcement theory (Skinner, 1953, 1956)

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6. Social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954)

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7. Path-goal theory (Georgopoulos, Mahoney, & Jones, 1957; House, 1971)

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8. Social exchange theory (Blau, 1964; Homans, 1958)

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9. Theory X and Theory Y (McGregor, 2006 (1960))

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10. Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1962)

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11. Equity theory (Adams, 1963)

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?

12. Social learning theory (Bandura, 1971; Bandura & Walters, 1963)

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13. Expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964) and contingency theory (Porter & Lawler, 1965, 1968)

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14. Motivator-hygiene theory (Herzberg, 1964)

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15. Acquired needs theory (McClelland, 1961, 1965, 1978)

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16. ERG theory (Alderfer, 1969, 1972)

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17. Self-determination theory (Deci, 1971, 1972a, b; Gagne & Deci, 2005)

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18. Opponent process theory (Solomon & Corbit, 1973, 1974)

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19. Goal-setting theory (Latham & Locke, 1979; Locke & Latham, 2002)

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20. Reversal theory of motivation (Apter, 1984)

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Note C Content, P Process, E Environmental, H Hedonic, CO Cognitive, G Growth

important for human behavior and expounded upon 22 of these instincts in the monthly journal Popular Science (James, 1887a, b).

This theory of motivation remained popular or generally accepted into the early twentieth century. William McDougall [1871-1938] subscribed to the theory and felt that individuals are motivated by a significant number of inherited instincts, many of which they may not consciously comprehend and which may lead to misunderstood and misinterpreted goals (McDougall, 1901).

The main problem with this theory is that it did not really explain behavior; it just described it. The theory then led to the search for additional theories of motivation.

 
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