David Mcclelland

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Motivation, David McClelland, Need for achievement
  • Pages : 7 (2211 words )
  • Download(s) : 260
  • Published : August 21, 2007
Open Document
Text Preview
David Clarence McClelland (1917 – March 27, 1998) was an American personality psychologist, social psychologist, and an advocate of quantitative history. McClelland earned his BA in 1938 at Wesleyan University, his MA in 1939 at the University of Missouri, and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Yale University in 1941. McClelland taught at the Connecticut College and Wesleyan University before accepting, in 1956, a position at Harvard University. After his 30-year tenure at Harvard he moved, in 1987, to Boston University, where he was a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology until his death at the age of 80.

McClelland proposed a content theory of motivation based on Henry Murray's (1938) theory of personality, which sets out a comprehensive model of human needs and motivational processes.1. In McClelland's book The achieving society (1961) he asserts that human motivation comprises three dominant needs: the need for achievement (N-Ach), the need for power (N-Pow) and the need for affiliation (N-Aff). The subjective importance of each need varies from individual to individual and depends also on an individual's cultural background. He also claimed that this motivational complex is an important factor in the social change and evolution of societies. 2. His legacy includes the scoring system which he co-developed for the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) that was developed by Murray and Morgan (1935). The TAT is used for personality assessment and in achievement motivation research, and described in McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, & Lowell's (1953) book The achievement motive. McClelland's theory was an attempt to scientifically test Max Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. One of the key studies, confirming the validity of McClelland's theories, is the study of Bradburn and Berlew (1961) who analyzed achievement motives in British school readers ("text books") and showed a strong correlation of these themes, a generation later, with the Britain's industrial growth. The conclusion is that the imagery (i.e. the values) produce the result (economic achievement). McClelland's Theory of Needs

In his acquired-needs theory, which draws on Murray's model, David McClelland proposed that an individual's specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one's early life experiences. Most of these needs can be classed as either achievement, affiliation, or power. A person's motivation and effectiveness in certain job functions are influenced by these three needs. McClelland's theory sometimes is referred to as the three need theory or as the learned needs theory. Later work indicated that motives are actually quite stable over long periods of time.

People with a high need for achievement ([[nAch]]) seek to excel and thus tend to avoid both low-risk and high-risk situations. Predominantly Achievement-motivated individuals avoid low-risk situations because the easily attained success is not a genuine achievement. In high-risk projects, the Achievement-motivated see the outcome as one of chance rather than one's own effort. High nAch individuals prefer work that has a moderate probability of success, ideally a 50% chance. Achievement-motivated individuals need regular feedback in order to monitor the progress of their achievements. They prefer either to work alone or with others like themselves. Affiliation

Those with a high need for affiliation ([[nAffil]]) need harmonious relationships with other people and need to feel accepted by other people. They tend to conform to the norms of their work group. High nAff individuals prefer work that provides significant personal interaction. They enjoy being part of groups and when not anxious make excellent team members, though sometimes are distractible into social interaction. They can perform well in customer service and client interaction situations. Power

A person's need for power ([[nPow]]) can be one of two types - personal and...
tracking img