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Motivation Theory

An inner drive inherent in all, Motivation plays an important role in intellectual, emotional, and professional success and development. Due to its imperative role and importance in the lives of individuals, Motivation has been a field of much research and study by psychiatrists, researchers, counsellors, academicians, and others. And such theorists have propounded several theories which explain the different motivating factors behind the behaviour of individuals.

Thus, Motivation Theory refers to the body of knowledge which explains the causal factors behind the drive called Motivation, which leads individuals to seek and achieve their goals.

Motivation theories can be divided into different categories such as Drive theories, Incentive theories, Optimal-level theories, and Opponent-process theories.

In Drive theories, the importance is on internal driving states, such as aggressive or sexual urges, as emphasised by Sigmund Freud, which are believed to drive individuals to their goal-seeking behaviour. Incentive theories focus upon particular goals or incentives and believe that the attainment of such goals creates an inner drive within individuals to achieve it. Individuals derive pleasure from seeking positive incentives or goals.

Opponent-process theories believe that individuals usually strive for those goals which have a positive emotional feeling attached with them. Optimal-level theories state that there is an optimal level of arousal or motivation level which is sought and maintained by individuals by seeking certain goals.

Famous psychologists have contributed to this body of knowledge. American psychologist Maslow is particularly famous in this regard, who proposed that people are usually motivated to achieve a hierarchical pyramid of needs, or the hierarchy of needs, with basic needs at the bottom and emotional needs such as esteem and ego-satisfaction at the top end of the pyramid. According to him, people fulfil their basic needs before travelling up to satisfy other needs.

Motivation Theories have also been propounded to explain the work motivation of employees at workplaces. Among them Douglas McGregor states that the motivation of employees lies not in cash or money, but in the nature of the work and opportunity for self-improvement.

Motivation theories vary in their approach and focus. Yet, in spite of their variance from one another, they have made our understanding of the concept of Motivation better and more insightful.


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A little motivation goes a long way: is formed with the strategic mission to instil positive thinking into hardworking individuals who feel the need to keep going regardless of life’s challenges.  It also provides a helpful insight into everyday life. © Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.