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Motivational theories

Man pointing.pngThe art of getting people to work well and consistently is a difficult one to get right. We are all the result of genes, ethics, values and other factors that make us difficult to predict. Directing the actions of others is not a simple process.

A theory of motivation is a general explanation of human behaviour which seeks to explain why human beings respond to stimuli in particular ways. These theories may be developed by reasoning (deduction) or empirically (by experiment).

There are two basic types of motivation theory:

  1. Content theories - what is it that motivates people?
  2. Process theories - how do you motivate another person?

Motivation theories - A timeline

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Motivation theory is complex and detailed. It is difficult to do justice to the work of all of the theorists we will examine in the following sections. You may want to take the opportunity to read more about them.