Clayton P. Alderfer’s ERG Theory.

For many years, psychologist and theorists alike have wondered, why does man do what he does? Why does a certain action take place? What is the motivation to perform a certain act? Finally, a psychologist, Clayton P. Alderfer answers these complicated questions with his ERG Theory.

Clayton P. Alderfer’s ERG Theory comes under the very intriguing topic of Motivation in Psychology. It is a rather well known theory in the topic of theories of motivation, and more specifically, it’s Content Theories. Commonly, this theory goes hand in hand with Abraham Maslow’s Theory on the Hierarchy of Human Needs, as it is a condensed form of it. However, there are certain differences to the ERG and The Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory.

Maslow’s Theory vs. Alderfer’s Theory

   1) Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory:

Before Clayton P. Alderfer, another American Psychologist, Abraham Maslow, explained the causes for behavior, or the motivation to perform: Basically, Motivation results from a demand of a need to be satisfied, and the act or performance it takes to satisfy that need is behavior. So, Maslow bought forward a theory called “The Hierarchy of Human Needs”, through which he explained, using a pyramid, that humans have five levels or stages of needs. The lower most stage is the most essential and demanding, followed by the one above, and so on. According to this theory, a person cannot satisfy a need if the one below it is left unsatisfied.

The stages in Maslow’s Pyramid includes:

  1. Physiological or Basic Needs.
  2. Safety Needs.
  3. Social Needs.
  4. Esteem Needs.
  5. Self-Actualization Needs.

The first stage, Physiological or Basic Needs, includes all the survival needs for a human, i.e. Food, water, shelter, sleep, excretion, etc. This need is the most demanding.

The second stage, Safety Needs, includes the need of an individual to feel secure and protected, i.e. need for security, laws, order, etc.

The third stage, Social Needs, includes the need of the whole human race for social interactions, i.e. Relations with other, intimacy, belonging need, etc.

The fourth stage, Esteem Needs, includes external esteem as well as internal esteem, i.e. self-confidence, high sense of self, respect from others, good reputation, etc.

The fifth and last stage in Maslow’s Pyramid is Self-Actualization Needs. This includes all personal growth needs where the person can recognize their potentials and accomplish them.

The first four stages are categorized as Deficiency Needs by Maslow, while the fifth is categorized as a Growth Need. Deficiency Needs basically refer to those need in which the absence of their satisfaction leads to anxiousness in a person.

   2) Alderfer’s ERG Theory:

As said above, Clayton P. Alderfer’s ERG Theory is a condensed or concentrated form of Maslow’s Need Structure. Here, Alderfer has condensed Maslow’s five stages in just three: Existence Needs, Relatedness Needs and Growth Needs. The term “ERG” in the name of his theory refers to these three elements.

The first need in Alderfer’s theory is Existence Needs. This is basically a compilation of Maslow’s first two needs, i.e. Physiological or Basic Needs and Safety Needs. It includes all the factors which are necessary for human survival like: Food, water, shelter, air, sleep, excretions, safety and security, etc.

The second need in Alderfer’s theory is Relatedness Needs. This is basically a compilation of Maslow’s Social Needs as well as a part of Esteem Needs. It includes factors such as: Need to establish bonds with others, to belong in a group, respect from others, good reputation, etc.

The third and last need in Alderfer’s theory is Growth Needs. This is basically a mixture of Maslow’s Self-Actualization Needs as well as a part of Esteem Needs. This need is basically related to one’s internal and personal growth of potentials and a high sense of self.

  • The difference between both these theories is that in Maslow’s Pyramid, an individual has to satisfy the lower level needs before they can start on the higher levels. According to Maslow, only one level of need can be satisfied at a time. However, according to Alderfer and his theory, multiple needs can be satisfied at the same time.
  • Another difference between the two theories is that in Maslow’s theory, for each individual, the pyramid is built on the same Need sequence. While in Alderfer’s theory, the need order (higher-level and lower-level needs) can differ from each person to person. For example: an artist may put his Growth Needs before his Relatedness Needs.

Satisfaction Relationships in Alderfer’s ERG Theory:

There are three types of satisfaction relationships in Clayton P. Alderfer’s ERG Theory. They are as follows:

   1) Satisfaction-Progression:

The first type of relationship in Alderfer’s theory is Satisfaction-Progression. This basically refers to satisfying a need and moving on to higher-level needs. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory, the whole process revolves around this relationship as according to Maslow, a person cannot move up to a higher-level need without satisfying the lower level need. However, in Alderfer’s theory, this is not the case. Here, if a person moves from satisfying his Relatedness Needs to his Growth Needs, it does not necessarily mean that his Existence Needs are satisfied.

   2) Frustration-Regression:

The second type of relationship in Alderfer’s theory is Frustration-Regression. This basically refers to when a person is unable to satisfy a higher-level need, they may regress to lower-level needs as they appear to be easier to satisfy. This relationship suggests that an already satisfied need can resurface and once again become active, if the need above it remains unfulfilled.

   3) Satisfaction-Strengthening:

The third and last type of relationship in Alderfer’s theory is Satisfaction-Strengthening. This basically refers to satisfying a current level of satisfied need again and again. This relationship suggests that a current level of need can be satisfied again and again when the individual fails to satisfy a higher-level need.

In conclusion we can say that Clayton P. Alderfer’s ERG Theory is a condensed form of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory. Apart from being concentrated, it challenges and solves all the criticisms Maslow’s Needs Theory had faced.


McClelland’s Theory of Needs: Discover what REALLY Motivates You.

There are over 7.4 billion people on Earth, each of them unique in their own way; possessing diverse mindsets, capabilities, skills and ambitions. Due to these individual differences, it’s safe to say that us humans are different even when it comes to our motivational drives. To solve the issue of recognizing exactly what is the most dominant motivational drive of a person, David McClelland, an American Psychologist, presented his Theory of Needs. 

This theory proved to be a successful contribution in the growing topic of Motivation in Psychology. Basically, in the Theory of Needs, McClelland categorized humans into three generalized personalities, equipped with their most dominant need and respective motivational drive. The three types of needs are: Need for Power, Need for Affiliation and Need for Achievement.

Categorization Over Stages:

Unlike, Abraham Maslow, McClelland chose categorization of needs, rather than stages of needs. In McClelland’s theory there are three types of generalized personalities, in which all humans fit.

Personality Types in McClelland’s Theory:

As mentioned above, the three types of need personalities are:

  1. Need for Power.
  2. Need for Affiliation.
  3. Need for Achievement.

   1) Need for Power:

Those with a dominant need and motivation for power constantly work towards it. This type of people are split into two further sub-categories: Personal and Institutional need for power. Those with a personal need for power aim to aim to establish their control over other, while people with an institutional need for power, aim to lead a group or team to the top.

  • Personality traits of those in need for power:

This type of people aim to establish control over others; aim to influence or lead; Commonly like to win arguments; enjoy competitions, winning, status and recognition; are demanding and outspoken; present their views, etc.

The people with a dominant need for power are constantly and mostly motivated to keep climbing up the ladder to acquire power, and since power is endless, they constantly keep climbing up higher and higher.

A person with this type of personality would shape all their goals and ambitions around their most demanding need (Need for Power in this case) and so, in any situation if anyone would like them to deliver their best and maximum results, they should try methods which would encourage a person thirsting for power and recognition.

   2) Need for Affiliation:

The second type of people, with a need for affiliation, basically have a need to establish bonds with others in a positive regard. This type of people’s most dominating motivational drive results from their need for being liked and to “belong”.

  • Personality traits for those in need for affiliation:

This type of people in essence aim to be liked by others. Their most common characteristics include: want to belong to a group; want to be liked; often found going with the flow of the group; unlike the people in need for power, this type prefers collaboration over competitions; favors low-risk.

The people with a dominant need for affiliation are constantly motivated to be liked by their fellow peers, or others in general. A person with this type of a personality will shape all their ultimate goals and ambitions around this dominant need, and thus, if anyone wishes to motivate them to deliver their absolute best and their maximum, they should try working with their motivational drive through their most dominant need i.e. Need for Affiliation, in this case.

   3) Need for Achievement:

This last category of people, are strongly motivated to work towards and achieve their goals and tasks through their very dominant need for achievement. This type of people are generally very ambitious and receive their maximum pleasure from achievement.

  • Personality traits for those in need for achievement:

This type of people, aim to achieve in their tasks and goals; they prefer challenging but not impossible tasks; they are accustomed to taking calculated and minimum risks; they prefer proper and regular feedbacks concerning their progress and achievements; they often like to work alone as they feel that others won’t give the tasks their maximum; on performing a task they deliver their 100%.

The people with a dominant need for achievement are constantly motivated to keep on achieving and to keep on progressing. Their thirst for achievement is so great and immense that it is their strongest and most dominating motivational drive, and thus, if anyone wishes to motivate this type of people, they must try methods which go along with their need for achievement.

Application of McClelland’s Theory of Needs to Real Life:

If you are an employee looking for motivational methods to apply to your employees, or even if you are here looking for motivation for your own-self, then follow the few simple steps listed below:

Step 1: Recognition of Dominant Need:

As McClelland’s theory suggests, every person can be generalized into three basic categories of personality type and characteristics, thus, the first step to finding where one’s strongest motivational drives lies, they must try to recognize which category of personality type from McClelland’s theory they belong to.

The easiest way includes:

  • try jotting down all your priority ambitions along with their reasons.
  • with a clear mind, try accessing your demand of life.
  • recognize your traits.

Try matching the results with the characteristics of McClellands personalities, and the personality which your answer matches the most with is your type.

Step 2: Channeling The Motivational Drive:

Once you are aware of the group of personality you belong to, you know your most dominant motivational drive. But the question remains, how to channel this drive into achieving all tasks? The answer: Try relating the task at hand to your most dominant need (power, affiliation or achievement) and keep on reinforcing the idea that achieving the task at hand will in one way or another, lead to the satisfaction of the need.

*Usage of the Theory on others:

For maximum results, let the people with a Need for Achievement work alone as they prefer. Similarly, allow the people with Need for Power to lead on the task and lastly, let the people with a Need for Affiliation work in groups.


Herzberg’s Motivation Theory & How It Can Help YOU Find Motivation For Your Job!

Based on the design of our economy system, work is necessary to live a fulfilling life. However, there are rarely any people who truly love their jobs, and thus, more often than not, we find ourselves feeling truly miserable when it comes to work. In 1959, an American psychologist, Fredrick Herzberg aimed to study exactly what factors bring about motivation in an employee in work-places. The theory he presented is now known as the Herzberg Motivation-Hygiene Theory. 

The Motivation-Hygiene Theory quickly became a rather major point in the topic of Motivation in Psychology, specially in the context of work-place motivation. This theory falls under the most basic theories of motivation, more specifically its Content Theories.

MORE: Lacking motivation and feeling miserable? Here is all the motivation you need.

During his research, Herzberg asked a group of employees about their good and bad experiences related to work. He was surprised to know that people’s good experiences were in no way connected to their bad experiences and vice versa. This gave Herzberg the two factors related to motivation in a work-place: Hygiene and Motivation. Due to this, his theory is also known as The Herzberg Two-Factor Theory. 

What are Hygiene and Motivational Factors?

Hygiene or Maintenance Factors, according to Fredrick Herzberg, are basically the conditions in a work-place. These are secondary factors to the work and its working conditions, and while their presence fails to bring about any motivational change in the employee, their absence leads to a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction in the workers. This factor is sometimes also known as the Dissatisfaction Factor.

On the other hand, Motivational Factors are those which bring about long-term and a long lasting positive effect on the employees. These factors are those which bring the real motivational force when it comes to workers and their productivity level or output. Motivational Factors are positive in nature and their absence doesn’t bring any change in the employees behavior, however, their presence leads to increased productivity levels.

1) Hygiene or Maintenance Factors:

As said above, these factors revolve around the conditions in which the job has to be performed and their absence leads to dissatisfaction in employees. The factors most commonly include elements such as: salary; job benefits; job security; decent working conditions; comfortable conditions i.e. absence of extreme temperatures and comfortable seating; company policies; relationship with colleagues, etc.

The factors mentioned above, if present, don’t necessarily lead to any rise in productivity levels, however, once these factors are removed, it will lead to a job dissatisfaction which will decrease motivation.

Motivation comes after a person is truly and well-satisfied, i.e no external factors are becoming a hindrance. In other words, satisfaction leaves room for motivation to come into being and to grow, thus, a person feeling dissatisfied due to the secondary conditions (like having to work in a really cold room) will have his mind preoccupied and amidst this dissatisfaction, the individual will not be delivering the desired results needed. Thus, if employers seek maximum productivity rate and minimum dissatisfied employees, they must not have an absence in their Hygiene Factors.

2) Motivational Factors:

Motivational Factors in a job, as previously discussed, are those factors which with their presence, bring forward a remarkably long-lasting and positive motivation in employees. This factor can improve the productivity levels in employees drastically, as well as keep the workers motivated on their jobs for a long while.

Motivational Factors include six elements:

  1. Advancement.
  2. Recognition.
  3. Achievement.
  4. The work itself.
  5. Personal growth.
  6. Responsibility.

Once the workers feel like an appreciated, respected and an important member of the team, they are motivated to keep performing better and better, to keep up with their reputation as well as grow in the field. Having been given enough responsibility leads to them feel proud of their achievements and in turn, the responsibility motivates themselves to keep on excelling. However, in this scenario the work itself is also a rather important element as the work should be under one’s capability and interests. Just mere payment doesn’t necessarily lead to long term fixes of motivation, the motivational factors are an essential when it comes to motivation in work-spaces.

The Different Combinations of Job Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction:

There are four kinds of different combinations when it comes to work and the workers satisfaction and dissatisfaction. These combinations are in relation to Herzberg’s Motivation Theory. They are as follows:

   1) High Hygiene and High Motivation:

In this type of combination, the worker’s Hygiene Factor is completely present and thus, he is not feeling dissatisfied. On the other hand, his Motivational Factor is also high and thus, this employee is motivated to his absolute maximum with his maximum production level. This is the ideal combination.

   2) High Hygiene and Low Motivation:

In this type of combination, the worker’s Hygiene Factor is completely present and thus, he is not feeling dissatisfied. On the other hand, his Motivational Factor is low and thus, though the worker has no complaints, he isn’t really motivated to perform and rather just views his job as a paycheck.


   3) Low Hygiene and High Motivation:

In this type of combination, the worker’s Hygiene Factor is absent and thus, he is feeling dissatisfied and finding complaints. On the other hand, his Motivational Factor is high and thus, he is motivated but rather finds the job unsatisfactory or challenging.

   4) Low Hygiene and Low Motivation:

In this type of combination, the worker’s Hygiene Factor is absent and thus, he is feeling dissatisfied. On the other hand, his Motivational Factor is also low and thus, neither is he motivated nor is he feeling any sort of job satisfaction. This is the worst combination.

We can conclude that an employer who wishes for a maximum productivity rate should firstly eradicate all dissatisfaction from the job and try increasing the employees motivational forces.

Now, if you find yourself slacking off and possessing close to no motivation to do your job, read and reflect on Herzberg’s Motivation Theory – or just send this link’s article to your boss anonymously, whatever you prefer.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Its Examples

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory is well famous among those who are familiar with the topic of Motivation in Psychology. It simplifies the most diverse world of human needs to just five levels, and through it, the theory enables one to accurately point out their own needs and channel their motivational energy into the right direction.

Maslow’s Theory of Motivation categorizes needs into five stages, with the bottom-most need demanding the most immediate satisfaction. The stages include:

  1. Physiological Needs.
  2. Safety Needs.
  3. Social Needs.
  4. Esteem Needs.
  5. Self-actualization Needs.

Categorization Of Needs In Maslow’s Pyramid:

In Maslow’s Pyramid, the bottom-most need requires the most immediate attention and satisfaction, followed by the one above it and so on. However, Maslow has categorized his five needs as a whole into two parts: Deficiency Needs and Growth Needs.

Difference Between Deficiency Needs and Growth Needs:

As the name suggests, Deficiency Needs are those needs which without their satisfaction, leads the person to feel severely anxious and “out of place”. Their presence is necessary for survival and also a healthy living experience, while their deficiency brings forward feelings of complete unsatisfactory. The rate of how unsatisfied a person feels in the absence of a deficiency need is related to how close the need is to the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. The shorter the distance between the need and the bottom, the greater the feeling of unsatisfactory. These needs are the first four (or the bottom four, according to the pyramid) existing of Maslow’s stages, i.e. Physiological, Safety, Social and Esteem Needs.

On the other hand, Growth Needs are those referring to internal, personal growth of a person. This need is not necessary for survival, nor does its absence lead to any sort of dissatisfaction. However, the need results from a person’s wish to expand or grow mentally, in their capabilities and skills, recognizing and achieving their full potential. This category includes the last and fifth stage of Maslow’s pyramid, i.e. Self-actualization Needs.

The Five Stages And Their Motivational Forces:

As we know, Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid targets to understand a person’s behavior by recognizing which need stage they are on, as an individual act to satisfy needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory consists of five human need stages, which are as follows:

   1) Physiological or Basic Needs:

These are the most basic of survival needs for a human, and since they require the most immediate satisfaction, they are situated at the most bottom of the pyramid. Physiological Needs include Food, Water, Shelter, Sleep, Excretion, etc. A person stuck in this stage of needs will only be motivated to satisfy his physiological needs, rather than worrying about the satisfaction of the needs existing in the other stages.

   2) Safety Needs:

The second level in Maslow’s pyramid is a person’s need for safety. Safety Needs include: a sense of security of the self, laws, order, policies, job-safety, etc. A person stuck on this level of needs will be entirely motivated to fulfill or satisfy his safety needs, rather than giving thought to the satisfaction of the needs on other levels.

   3) Social Needs:

Man is a social animal. We humans are programmed to live together while being the only species with the ability to effectively communicate. Thus, we have Social Needs as well, including: the need to make and maintain strong bonds with other humans, develop relationships along with romantic relationships, etc. A person stuck on this level will be motivated to find bonds and relations which will satisfy his social needs.

   4) Esteem Needs:

For an average person, a good sense of self or a healthy rate of self-esteem is a necessity if one should wish to live a healthy life. This stage in Maslow’s Need Theory includes both self-esteem and respect from others; it includes self-confidence, respect, good reputation, etc. A person stuck on this level will be motivated to work towards increasing all these factors; their actions will be influenced by their need for esteem, i.e. they will be motivated towards performing such tasks that will that will increase their own self-esteem, as well as the respect they receive from others.

   5) Self-Actualization Needs:

After the person has completely achieved all their deficiency needs, he will enter his final stage in Maslow’s theory of motivation. Now, this person will have a need to expand into himself, i.e. realize all his potential and work towards achieving them. Their motivation will revolve around finding ways to achieve these potentials and keep on growing.

Maslow’s Hierarchy And Everyday Life:

So, we have read and discussed about Abraham Maslow’s theory in detail, but the question remains, how can we really link it to everyday life? Following are some real-life examples, revolving around Maslow’s Theory.

Physiological Needs basically means that a person should have enough or the satisfactory amount of food, water, shelter, sleep, etc. Most homeless persons, or those denied of their rights are the subjects stuck in this level. For example: During the Holocaust, the people in Auschwitz were barely given any food or water and neither did the women have much place for any bodily excretions. They settled for eating and drinking anything that they could find, regardless of it being clean or unclean, and even excreted their bodily wastes into their food bowls.

In Safety Needs stage, after the person has their basic needs fulfilled, they look for a secure place to stay. For example: A victim of abuse running off and hiding at a safe place, well away from their abuser.

An example for Social Needs is: A well-fed and well-settled person now looks for people to connect with for feeling of belonging. They search for friends in order to be “a part of” something.

An Esteem Needs example: A person, well satisfied in all their previous need stages, now looks for a positive reputation and respect from others as well as from their own-self.

Lastly, an example for Self-actualization Needs: A person satisfied in all his previous levels, now looks to improve his own self and his ways of thinking.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs & Its Relation to Motivation.

Humans; complicated organism structures, over 7.4 billion currently living on Earth – each and every one of them unique in their own way of thinking and behaving. The philosophers and great minds alike, dare to ask the question: “Why do humans behave and do the things they do?”, and in 1943, Abraham Maslow answers this question with his theory on the Hierarchy of Human Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory was a breakthrough in the world of Psychology, and the still developing concept of Motivation. The theory, in essence, pointed to different stages of needs in humans, along with the respective motivation to fulfill the said need, and thus, this theory is also known as Maslow’s Theory of Motivation.

The Abraham Maslow Theory consists of a five-story pyramid. Each story or level consists of a category of need, along with the bottom-most being the most immediate need of a human, followed by the one above it and so on. This basically aimed to discuss and point out that on each level, the person’s primary motivation and behavior results from the thirst to satisfy that need. The stages include:

  1. Physiological Needs.
  2. Safety Needs.
  3. Social Needs.
  4. Esteem Needs.
  5. Self-actualization Needs.

The first four (or bottom four, according to the pyramid) are known as the Deficiency Needs, while the fifth is known as Growth Needs. 

Deficiency Needs and Growth Needs:

As we know, the bottom-most four needs are also known as Deficiency Needs. This is because a deficiency in the satisfaction of these need will lead a person feeling anxious and “not whole”, as these needs are necessary to sustain a peaceful, pleasant and positive living experience.

As for the Growth Needs, the last need is termed as this due to the fact that it highlights an inner growth in the perception of one’s capabilities, skills, etc. This need is not necessary to sustain a healthy living experience, but rather it requires a higher mental capability.


A Breakdown of All Five Stages:

   1) Physiological Needs:

The first or the bottom-most stage in the pyramid is termed as the Physiological Needs or Basic Needs. It consists of all those basic survival needs which include food, water, air, warmth, etc. Without the satisfaction of these needs, human survival will be at a continuous risk, and thus, this is the most immediate need, thirsting for immediate satisfaction in humans.

   2) Safety Needs:

The second need, listed in Maslow’s theory of motivation, is the Safety Need. This need, as the name suggests, is the need for safety or security of the individual, including laws, order, stability, etc. In work-places it can also include job-security, etc.

   3) Social Needs:

Man is a social animal, and so, it is a great need of ours to socially interact with others, creating bonds like friendships, relations, intimacy and being “a part” of a group. For this reason, it is also termed as Belongingness Need.

   4) Esteem Needs:

This refers to both our self-esteem and esteem from others. Our need of self-esteem includes confidence, dignity, independence, a pleasant sense of the self, etc, while our need for esteem from others include respect, a good reputation, etc.

   5) Self-actualization Needs:

This refers to the need for one’s personal growth. It includes realizing one’s full potential and capabilities and working towards achieving them.


Maslow’s Pyramid And It’s Relation To Motivation:

Up till now, we have gathered that Maslow’s theory highlights human needs in stages, however, the question remains: How is it linked to Motivation in Psychology?

First, lets look at what motivation is: Its a driving force which pushes us forward to accomplish a certain task. Over the years many psychologist and theorists have tried explaining this phenomena, and thus many theories for it were presented, which are now known as the Theories of Motivation. One of the theories of motivation is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs Theory, and comes under the section of Content Theories which basically aims to theorize what motivates us.

We have seen and discussed every stage present in Maslow’s Pyramid, individually; we have stressed on how these needs demand to be satisfied as they are important to sustain a healthy living experience. So the force which pushes us forward to meet these needs in each stage is known as Motivation, and thus, because this theory highlights exactly what is motivating us in which stage of life, it comes under theories of motivation, and more specifically its Content Theories.


Stages And Their Respective Motivational Forces:

A person stuck in the first stage, Physiological or Basic Needs, will be constantly motivated to somehow acquire shelter, food, water, etc, as he is aware of the needs for survival. Here, the individual wouldn’t be motivated to satisfy other needs like social and esteem needs, because as explained above, his main concern will be for the stage he is in.

An individual in the second stage of Safety Needs, will be motivated to acquire safety of his own personal self.

The motivational force of a person stuck on the third level, Social Needs, will revolve around trying to establish healthy relations with others as friends and potential romantic partners, along with a motivation to acquire intimacy and sexual relations.

A person stuck on the fourth level, Esteem Needs, will be motivated satisfy his need for respect, a good reputation, self-confidence, etc and so he will engage in actions which strengthen the above said needs.

Lastly, a person stuck on the last level, Self-Actualization Needs, will be motivated to discover his inner-self; his potential and capabilities. Once discovering, the person will be motivated towards the satisfaction of excelling his potential.

*Additional Stages Added to Maslow’s Pyramid:

In the more updated version, three more stages are added in Maslow’s theory, in the section of Growth Needs, which include: Cognitive Needs, Aesthetic Needs and Transcendence Needs.


We conclude that Maslow’s Theory on Hierarchy of Human Needs is a break-through in the world of Psychology, and with enough understanding, perhaps we can accurately pin-point our current needs and motivational forces, and use it to our advantage.


Process Theories of Motivation: How You Are Really Motivated.

Isn’t it truly magical, when you get that sudden spurt of motivation and you almost feel like you could defeat the world in that moment? That’s pretty much your brain coming back to it’s senses – a phenomenon which many psychologists have spent years on studying, and which now comes under the theories of motivation, and more specifically, it’s process theories.

So what are Process Theories of Motivation? These theories aim to study how exactly does motivation occur in an individual.

Despite the popular belief of every student, motivation doesn’t just magically appear at three in the morning and disappear by first light. Its actually much more simple and yet complicated at the same time. For years, psychologist and theorists have struggled trying to point out the what and the how of motivation, and now finally, we have our answers.

We have complied together a detailed discussion on the four most basic of the Process Theories of Motivation, under the very intriguing topic of Motivation in Psychology. The theories include:

  1. B.F. Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory or Operant Conditioning.
  2. Adam’s Equity Process Theory of Motivation.
  3. Vroom’s Expectancy Process Theory of Motivation.
  4. The Carrot and Stick Approach in Motivation.


1) Skinner’s Reinforcement Process Theory of Motivation:

Many of us may remember this theory in Behaviorism, however, it also plays a huge role in the Process Motivation Theory. The psychologist, Skinner, in his study found that motivation occurs in an individual through two elements: Reinforcement and Punishment.

In the simplest of terms, Reinforcement was the desirable element provided to an individual in the case of performance, while Punishment was the undesirable element provided to an individual in the case of non-performance. Both these elements have their own further sub-types: Positive and Negative Reinforcement, and Positive and Negative Punishment.

Positive Reinforcement is when the individual is rewarded with something desirable when a task is achieved, while Negative Reinforcement is when something undesirable is eradicated from the individual in the case of performance.


Positive Reinforcement Negative Reinforcement
A child being awarded with a slice of cake after he completes his homework. A youngster being exempted from washing the dishes after getting a good score on a test.

At the same time, Positive Punishment is when something undesirable is given to an individual if they fail to complete a task, while Negative Punishment is when something desirable is taken away from the individual at the case of non-performance.


Positive Punishment Negative Punishment
A child made to shovel snow if he fails to do his homework. A child being grounded after he fails to do his homework.

In essence, we can understand how a person will be motivated to achieve a goal if he expects reward in the end (in case of Reinforcement), or if he fears a punishment in the case of non-performance. Thus, the person experiences motivation and achieves the desired goal.


2) Adam’s Equity Process Theory of Motivation:

This process theory of motivation in Psychology, focuses on the exchange relationships of effort and reward. As we have previously discussed, reward is one of the key elements for a person’s motivation, however, there too is a catch. Adam talks of three kinds of exchange relationships, where in the equal one, the strongest motivation can be observed.

   a) Overpaid Inequity:

In this type of exchange relationship, the person’s effort into the performance (input) is less than the reward after completion i.e. salary (output). This can seriously effect the moral values of the individual, and in turn, lessen their motivation.

   b) Underpaid Inequity:

In this second type, an individual’s effort (input) is more than the reward after completion (output). Since reward is a great motivating force, it can seriously hinder a person’s motivation if they feel that their reward is not worth their effort. In popular belief, this type is the most demotivating.

   c) Equity:

In this final type, the person’s effort (input) is equal to the reward after completion (output). Here, motivation can be observed acting at it’s finest as there is no factor remaining to hinder it.


3) Vroom’s Expectancy Process Theory of Motivation:

Vroom’s study in the process motivation theories, highlight conscious choices, i.e. an individual selects a course of action over a different one, with the expectation that this choice will grant him a desired result. Vroom talks of three factors or elements which help us make the said conscious choice:

a) Expectancy.

b) Instrumentality.

c) Valance.

Expectancy is the belief of a person that better effort will grant him a better performance at the task. Vroom lists 3 factors that affect this element:

  • The individual having the right material to perform the task.
  • The individual possessing the right skills to perform the task.
  • The individual being granted the right supervision for support in the performance of the task.

Instrumentality is the belief of a person that they will be rewarded after performance. This element is affected by factors which include:

  • A clear and easy understanding between the job and the reward.
  • The proper means or rules to attaining the reward.
  • Transparency of the whole process.

Valance is the last element. It is the personal importance an individual places on the reward. A higher importance will lead to a higher motivation to perform the task efficiently.


4) The Carrot and Stick Approach:

This theory in the process theories of motivation, was presented well back during the Industrial Revolution. It states to reward the individual in case of performance and give punishments in case of non-performance.

It basically took the example of a donkey; in front of it, you give it a carrot if it moves forward, and if it fails to do so (non-performance), you hit it with a small stick so that it would move forward again. In essence, we can say that the person is motivated due to the reward, and if they fail to perform, the punishment has them reverting back to the alternative choice and thus, performance is observed.


Now that we know the reality of how motivation works; free from any and all magic, we can probably manipulate our our own brain into more of those “magical” moments.



Slacking Off & Yielding To Misery? Here Is Your Motivation.

Ever felt that you were seriously slacking off of tasks? Or how about moments when you felt at such a loss of motivation, that you succumbed to those barely working, short-term fixes? We’ve been there too. But worry not, because we’ve gathered around the most basic of the long-term fixing: theories of motivation.

Motivation is described as a driving force or energy which pushes the individual to work towards the achievement of a goal. It is a product of a need’s demand for satisfaction in an individual.

However, due to individual differences, the whole of the human race cannot benefit from just one method of motivation. And so, through decades of extensive research, many psychologist and theorists presented the world of modern psychology with different and varying motivation theories.

These theories of motivation play a significant role in Motivational Psychology today.


Categorization of Theories of Motivation

Motivational theories are divided into two parts: Content Theories and Process Theories.

Content Theories of Motivation:

Content theories basically deals with what factors influence a person’s motivation. Here are the most basic content theories of motivation in motivational psychology:


1) Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

In his five-story pyramid, Maslow highlights different stages or levels of needs in the context of motivation, with the bottom-most being the most pressing need which demands to be satisfied immediately.


Self-Actualization: Personal Growth and Fulfillment.
Esteem Needs: Respect, Confidence, Status and Reputation.
Social Needs: Belonging, Trust and Acceptance.
Safety Needs: Security and Stability.
Physiological Needs: Shelter, Food, Water, Air.


According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, a person stuck on the first level of the pyramid – Physiological/Basic Needs – will only strive to, and be motivated to fulfill these demands rather than caring for the satisfaction of the needs in the levels above. After the person is satisfied in relation to all his needs and wants present in the pyramid, he is Self-Actualized. A person can very well locate his motivational forces after recognizing which level he is on.


2) Alderfer’s ERG Theory:

This theory is a thoroughly concentrated form of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Here, instead of Maslow’s five stage needs and their corresponding motivational levels, the ERG theory is condensed into just three stages: Existence Needs, Relatedness Needs and Growth Needs.

Existence Needs is a compilation of the first two of Maslow’s needs, i.e. Physiological and Safety needs, while Relatedness Needs is a mixture of Maslow’s Social Needs, as well as a hint of his Esteem Needs, and lastly, Growth Needs consist of Maslow’s Esteem and Self-Actualization Needs.

3) David McClelland’s Theory:

David McClelland, with his theory, categorized humans with three basic needs: Need for Power; Need for Affiliation and Need for Achievement.

People with a strong need for power strive for control over others. These individuals have characteristics which include being out-spoken, demanding, practical and authoritative. This category of people are motivated to reach and be at the top, where they can exercise control, authorize and influence other people.

In the category for the type of people who have a need for affiliation, the individuals gain their maximum satisfaction through making and maintaining positive connections with others, and thus, they are constantly motivated to please, be loved and accepted by others, all the while ignoring and dismissing the pain of rejection.

The third category is which has an immense need for achievement. This category of people are calculating and opt for taking minimum risk, as it could hinder with their scale of achievement; they give their tasks their maximum and are often observed craving for immediate feedbacks. These individuals are so immensely motivated for achievement that their main aim is the satisfaction of the need rather than the by-product of the completion of the task, i.e. payment, etc.


4) Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory:

This theory, presented by Fredrick Herzberg, deals with workplace motivation. Herzberg aimed to theorize exactly what motivated employees and he found two factors: Maintenance or Hygiene factor, and Motivational factor. Due to this, the theory is also known as the Two-Factor Theory.

Hygiene are those factors which are related to the conditions in which a job has to be preformed. They most commonly include salary, job security, decent working conditions, benefits, company policies, etc. Absence of these factors create dissatisfaction, and the individual works to get them back, however, their presence is only a sort-term motivation fix.

Motivational Factors’ presence creates a long-lasting and positive motivation in employees. It includes six factors: Recognition, advancement, achievement, the work itself and the possibility of growth and responsibility.


Process Theories of Motivation:

Process theories deal with how motivation occurs in individuals, and here they are as follows:


1) Vroom’s Expectancy Theory:

Expectancy Theory can be said to be based on a person’s perception and conscious choices. Vroom stated that motivation results from three variables: Expectancy, Instrumentality and Valance.

Expectancy is a belief of a person that high effort leads to a better performance. Expectancy is affected by factors such as having the right material, skills and support for the job, etc.

Instrumentality is the belief for reward after the completion of the task. It is also dependent on factors like a clear understanding between the reward and means/rules to attaining it, as well as the transparency of the process, etc.

Valance is the individual’s personal importance of the reward or outcome. If the importance is higher, then there will be a higher motivation.


2) Adam’s Equity Theory:

This theory basically states that a person is most motivated when he feels that there is an equity between his performance/input and his reward/output. Three are three types of exchange relationships:

Overpaid Inequity is when the the output is more than the input.

Underpaid Inequity is when the input is more than the output. This is the most demotivating.

Equity is when the input is equal to that of the output, and here, motivation can be observed in it’s maximum.


3) Reinforcement Theory:

Or Operant Conditioning, states that individuals are likely to repeat a behavior that will bring about a desirable outcome, and refrain from those which bring forward undesirable outcomes. It includes two types of outcomes:

The first is Reinforcement. It is of two types: Positive and Negative. Positive Reinforcement refers to rewarding an individual, while Negative refers to taking away something undesirable, when the task is achieved.

The second is Punishment which is also of two types: Positive and Negative. Positive Punishment refers to giving something undesirable to the person, while Negative refers to taking something desirable away, if the task is not fulfilled.


4) The Carrot and Stick Approach:

This theory is a traditional one. In essence, it states to reward the individual at performance and give punishments in case of non-performance. However, the punishment has several conditions: It is only effective if the individual then selects the alternative desirable behavior; Punishment should be given at the time of non-performance.


Finally, now as we know exactly how we are motivated, we can apply these theories to our benefit and perhaps, we will succeed in not yielding to the temptation that is the living-room couch.