Contemporary Motivational Theories

Topics: Motivation, Human behavior, Educational psychology Pages: 11 (3643 words) Published: March 6, 2013

In all kinds of industrial settings, motivation is admitted as one of the most prominent affective factors, and numerous studies in the literature have demonstrated the effect of it on training and learning process. Because of this remarkable effect, several theories on the definition of it and motivation types have been presented by the scholars. This study provides an overview regarding the contemporary motivational theories in industrial psychology and learning which have theoretically illustrated the research studies on motivation.

Keyword: Motivation, motivational theories.


Motivation has been the core of many studies up to now, and a significant number of researchers have been researching the term “motivation”. Hence, what does the term “motivation” mean? One technical definition describes motivation as the extent to which certain stimuli, objects, or events affect the occurrence or non-occurrence of the behaviour in question. Crookes and Schmidt (1991) describe motivation as the learner’s orientation in relation to the goal of learning.

According to Steers and Porter (1991), “Motivation can be characterized as needs or expectations, behavior, goals and some form of feedback”. Ryan and Deci (2000) state that “to be motivated means to be moved to do something”. Dornyei (2001) explains that human behaviour has two dimensions – direction and magnitude (intensity). Motivation is related to these concepts, and “it is responsible for the choice of a particular action and the effort expended on it and the persistence with it.” (Dornyei, 2001). He also states that “motivation explains why people decide to do something, how hard they are going to pursue it and how long they are willing to sustain the activity”.


Motivational psychologists investigate what triggers people to move and why people do what they do. More specifically motivational psychologists want to examine what the individual is doing, or the choice of behaviour; how long it takes before an individual initiates the activity, or the latency of behaviour; how hard the person actually works at activity, or the intensity of behaviour; how long the individual is willing to remain at the activity, or the persistence of behaviour; and what the individual is thinking and feeling while engaged in the activity, or the cognitions and emotional reactions accompanying the behaviour. In the past, drives, needs and reinforcements were put forward to explain the primary sources of motivation. However, current theories and research studies on motivation focus more on individuals’ beliefs, values and goals as the primary sources of motivation. The following are the most influential current theories in psychology.

2.1. Expectancy- Value Theory

Expectancy of success has been researched for the last decades, because it is for sure that “we do the things best if we believe we can succeed” (Dornyei, 2001). Expectancy of success is not sufficient if it is not followed by positive values. Expectancy of success and values are inseparable and they go hand in hand, so motivation theories based on these two terms are called “expectancy-value theories” (Dornyei, 2001). Modern expectancy-value theories are based on Atkinson’s (1957, 1964) original expectancy-value model in which “they link achievement performance, persistence, and choice most directly to individuals’ expectancy-related and task-value beliefs” (cited in Wigfield, Eccles, Roeser, and Schiefele, 2009). Expectancy-value theories depend on two key factors; the first one is the individual’s expectancy of success and the other is the value the individual gives on that task or activity. Eccles-Parsons et al. (1983) define expectancies for success as “individuals’ beliefs about how well they will do on upcoming tasks, and ability beliefs about how good one is”, and values are defined “with...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Motivational Theories Essay
  • Motivation and contemporary theory of motivation Essay
  • Week 2 assignment Motivational Theories Essay
  • Week 2 assignment Motivational Theories Essay
  • Motivational Drives Essay
  • Motivational Concepts Essay
  • Effective Motivational Techniques in the Workplace Essay
  • Theories of Employee Motivation Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free