Theories of Motivation

The contemporary literature concerned with the human motivation processes can be described as a collection of "miniature theories", each concerned with understanding and predicting behavior under a very limited set of conditions. This approach is contrasted with the global efforts of early personality theorists like Freud and Murray who attempted to develop more general theories of human motivation. The trend toward the miniature theory in this area can be understood as an attempt to develop theoretical concepts more precisely defined and testable than those provided by traditional personality theory.

Ms is a relatively stable personality trait initially proposed as one of Murray's 20 psychogenic needs was called the need for achievement (n Ach). Individuals who have a high need for achievement motive are characterized as having a very strong desire to perform well in competitive situations such as school, to do things quickly and independently and to always strive to excel or get ahead in the world. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) measures an individual's level of achievement motivation.

This test was developed by Murray (1938, and falls into the general category of testing instruments known as projective tests. This test consists of showing and individual a series of ambiguous human scenes and asking him to white a brief story about each scene. An individual can score from 1 to 10 on the test with 10 representing a very high level of need achievement motivation and 1 very low. The score received on the TAT is the Ms value to be inserted into the equation. Ps is the individual's subjective estimate of the probability of success at the task.

It is the assumed cognitive factor in Atkinson's theorizing. It is an attempt to qualify your expectancy concerning the outcome if a particular course of action is chosen. Is is the incentive value associated with success. According to Atkinson, it is the feeling of pride or value associated with achieving a goal. He defines 'Is' as 1 – Ps. It suggests that the value or pride associated with succeeding at a very difficult task is greater than the value or pride associated with succeeding at an easy task. Atkinson also assumes that fear of failure also affects your choice behavior.

It is a negative source of motivation that represents the tendency to avoid the task. He defines Taf as follows: Taf = Maf x Pf x If. Maf is another stable personality trait that Atkinson assumes characterizes most of us to varying degrees. This trait is essentially an indication of the anxiety you have when approaching a task at which you could fail. Individuals who are high in Maf tend to be nervous and generally 'high-strung'. The Madler-Sarason Test Anxiety Questionnaire (TAQ) is an objective self-report measure of anxiety that consists of questions concerning your nervous reactions to various situations.

This score is the Maf score, which ranges from 1 to 10, with a score of 10 representing a very anxious, and 1 representing a calm and collected person. Pf is the subjective probability that you will fail at the task. Atkinson assumes at Pf and Ps must equal unity (i. e. – Ps + Pf = 1). If is the incentive value of failure. In common sense terms, it is meant t be an estimate of the amount of shame or embarrassment associated with failure. Atkinson defines 'If' as – 1 – Ps. It suggests that the amount of embarrassment you feel over failure at a difficult task is greater the easier the goal was supposed to be.