Topics: Motivation, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Psychology Pages: 7 (1835 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Motivation theories can be classified broadly into two different perspectives: Content and Process theories. Content Theories deal with “what” motivates people and it is concerned with individual needs and goals. Maslow, Alderfer, Herzberg and McCelland studied motivation from a “content” perspective. Process Theories deal with the “process” of motivation and is concerned with “how” motivation occurs. Vroom, Porter & Lawler, Adams and Locke studied motivation from a “process” perspective.

1. Content Theories about Motivation

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

When motivation theory is being considered the first theory that is being recalled is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which he has introduced in his 1943 article named as “A Theory of Human Motivation”. According to this theory, individual strives to seek a higher need when lower needs are fulfilled. Once a lower-level need is satisfied, it no longer serves as a source of motivation. Needs are motivators only when they are unsatisfied.

In the first level, physiological needs exist which include the most basic needs for humans to survive, such as air, water and food.

In the second level, safety needs exist which include personal security, health; well-being and safety against accidents remain.

In the third level, belonging needs exit. This is where people need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. It is about relationships, families and friendship. Organizations fulfill this need for people.

In the fourth level, self-esteem needs remain. This is where people looks to be respected and to have self-respect. Achievement needs, respect of others are in this level.

In the top-level, self-actualization needs exist. This level of need pertains to realizing the person’s full potential.

In 1969, Clayton P. Alderfer, simplified Maslow’s theory by categorizing hierarchy of needs into three categories:

Physiological and Safety needs are merged in Existence Needs,

Belonging needs is named as Relatedness Needs,

Self-esteem and Self-actualization needs are merged in Growth Needs

Frederick Herzberg, introduced his Two Factor Theory in 1959. He suggested that there are two kinds of factors affect motivation, and they do it in different ways:

1) Hygiene factors: A series of hygiene factors create dissatisfaction if individuals perceive them as inadequate or inequitable, yet individuals will not be significantly motivated if these factors are viewed as adequate or good. Hygiene factors are extrinsic and include factors such as salary or remuneration, job security and working conditions.

2) Motivators: They are intrinsic factors such as sense of achievement, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth.

The hygiene factors determine dissatisfaction, and motivators determine satisfaction. Herzberg theory conforms to satisfaction theories which assert that “a satisfied employee tends to work in the same organization but this satisfaction does not always result in better performance”. In other words, satisfaction does not correlate with productivity.

In his 1961 book named as “The Achieving Society”, David McClelland identified three basic needs that people develop and acquire from their life experiences.

Needs for achievement: The person who has a high need for achievement seeks achievement and tries to attain challenging goals. There is a strong need for feedback as to achievement and progress, and a need for a sense of accomplishment. The people who have a high achievement need likes to take personal responsibility.

Needs for affiliation: The person who has a high need for affiliation needs harmonious relationships with people and needs to be accepted by other people. (People-oriented, rather than task-oriented)

Needs for power: The people who have a need for power want to direct and command other people. Most managers have a high need for power.

Although these categories of needs are not exlusive, generally...

References: Frenkel-Brunswik, E. Motivation and behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs. Vol 26,1942, 121-265.
Hogg, M. A. (2000). Subjective Uncertainty Reduction through Self-categorization: A Motivational Theory of Social Identity Processes. European Review of Social Psychology, 11 223-255
Beauchaine, Theodore (2001). Vagal tone, development, and Gray’s motivational theory: Toward an Integrated model of autonomic nervous system functioning in psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 13 (02) 183-214
Riskin, C. (1973). Maoism and motivation: Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 5. Retrieved from
Alsua, C. J. , 2009-04-01 "Intrinsic Motivation, Goal Orientation and Performance: A Cultural Comparison between the Border Region of Northern Mexico and the US" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the BALAS Annual Conference, ITESM, Guadalajara, Mexico Online . 2010-03-11 from
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