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Motivation Theory in the Workplace:

Erasing the Line Between Psychology and the Office
Joe Rael
Psychology 1010



Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to act towards a
desired goal and elicits, controls and sustains certain goal-directed behaviors. These are
driving forces that compel all organisms to engage in particular behaviors. (Schater p.
325) The psychological drive for hunger leads to eating, just as psychological drive for
companionship leads to interpersonal engagement. The drives we experience are the basis
in numerous carefully crafted models, from Maslows hierarchy of needs, to Herzbergs
two-factor theory. Simply put, motivation is the drive that urges us to behave in a specific
A distinction is to be made between the conscious and unconscious motivations.
A geneticist will likely presume the unconscious factors paramount, as they are bred
within genes, formed through hundreds of millions of years of evolution. The geneticist
will regard the promiscuous behaviors of most male species to be built from the
instinctive urge to reproduce, and the female instinctive cautionary responses to be built
from the motherly behavior warning her of the likelihood of raising an offspring without
the presence of their father. Contrarily, to one who takes conscious motivation
paramount, emotional factors will be accounted for, be they means of rationalization, for
I loved her at the time. (Wright)
Rational motivation is the belief that organisms, humans in particular, behave in
accordance to their rational. However, concurring research deems this otherwise. It is
more evident that Homo Sapiens act through from of bounded rationality, the theory that
people are nearly, but not fully rational, so they cannot examine every possible choice
available to them, but rather utilize rules of thumb to guide their daily living. This is
where we see the field of behavioral economics enters. It is the study of how the
consumer behaves in the market place, inferring upon human limitations to account for a
lack of rational decision-making. (Miller)
Two core components exist within motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the motive
of pursuing and action in an attempt to receive gratification or pleasure from the action
itself, rather than with the expectation of a desire reward or result. Intrinsic motivation
manifests within the workplace when a laborer attributes production results to factors
under their own control, leading to a greater sense of autonomy, or it they believe they
have the skills to be effective agents in reaching their desired goals, also known as self-
efficacy beliefs. It is passion behind the action, the desire to learn a new skill, to achieve
a MBA. This contrast from the second component; extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic
motivation references the work committed to achieve a desired outcome or reward.
Increasing productivity in hopes for a bonus, or better behavior in an attempt to achieve
preferred parking at the office. This rule doesnt only apply to positive reinforcement, but
to punishment and negative reinforcement as well. The concerns of disciplinary action
such as suspensions or expulsions are means enough to regulate both individual and
group behavior. False tax record keeping can result in punishment ranging from the lss of
a job to incarceration. (Dewani) This field of study is operant conditioning, a type of
learning in which an individuals behavior is modified by its consequences. (Skinner)
Operant conditioning is the centerpiece in incentive theory. Incentive theory uses
a reward to create a motivation for future reoccurrence of a given behavior. These

rewards are what create to reinforcement behind the continuation, or continuation, or the
abolition, of the behavior. Positive reinforcement is exhibited through the former ends,
and negative reinforcement by the latter.
The numbers of different motivational factors are limitless, and numerous
attempts have been made to organize these drives into formalized models. The American
motivations psychologist, Abraham H. Maslow, in his Hierarchy of Needs, created the
most widely accepted. Maslow created five classes of needs, each one based around a
central concept. The needs, from lowest and most essential on the hierarchy, to greatest
and most essential are physiological (sleep, hunger, thirst, lust), self-esteem and
achievement, and self-actualization. The only way for one to buid on the upper levels of
the hierarchy of needs is to satisfy their precursors.
Another theory that is correlated more directly to the workplace is Frederick
Herzbergs two-factor theory. Herzbergs theory is based upon the intrinsic/extrinsic
drives to hygiene factors. Motivators are our desires to pursue and engage in challenging
work, recognition, and to work with responsibility. Hygiene factors are our desires to
obtain a good salary, job security, and benefits. Herzberg clarifies that hygiene factors do
not act as motivators, however if absent, they result in demotivation, or negative
reinforcement. In contrast, the former criterion pawns job satisfaction. These tow inverse
element are what is the fount to the concept of the dual-factor theory. In example, an
employee may have a very stale job, earning a fair salary and working in good labor
condition, however, these factors will not add any job satisfaction. If out laborer was
working in poor conditions with a low salary, they will only experience job
dissatisfaction. Note; these elements are all extrinsic, or external motives. Conversely, if
an individual is given great responsibility within a firm, accompanied by recognition for
their hard efforts to improve the company, he or she will experience no satisfaction,
rather than dissatisfaction.
When we examine Herzbergs and Maslows models side by side, we notice
marked similarities within their structures. Within Herzbergs hygiene factors, we see the
fundamental needs at the base of Maslows hierarchy, the physiological and safety
factors. The need for proper safety of working conditions ensures the security of body,
and a stable job to ensure the safety of employment. We see Herzbergs motivators in the
upper end of Maslows hierarchy of needs in the factors of esteem, belonging, and self-
actualization. The need for self-esteem, achievement, respect, and recognition both are
the essence of the esteem category and the motivators category, while creativity, problem
solving, and responsibility are what make up our drive for self-actualization.
Motivation is the drive that dictates how every one of us behaves. When a
founder, CEO, or even supervisor achieves an understanding of the human drive, every
employee can be maximized to his or her greatest potential. We are to take the lessons
given from B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow, and Frederick Herzberg, and utilize them in
the workplace. Once we discover what makes us tick, what creates our passion for
success, for achievement, we are able to hand that motivation to each ma and women in
whatever field he or she may be. These are universal truths; they are the basis of
evolution, the basis of what makes human beings. These are what will create leaders.



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