How to apply different motivational theories to understand career orientation?

How to apply different motivational theories to understand career orientation?

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"What motivates you towards choosing the career/job orientation you have chosen? Discuss and explain with reference to three of the motivational theories discussed during the course".

I'm used to writing more scientific essays in the field of psychology, but I am finding some difficulty introducing and maintaining this assignment with a more subjective approach. We are expected to keep with APA rules and formatting and stick to a scientific method of writing. Yet if I am to write a theoretical paper, how am I to keep the focus on what motivates me personally?

Much of the scientific literature in psychology is concerned with proposing and empirically testing theories. However, if you are a practitioner you are interested in how you can apply these ideas to achieve applied goals. This requires that you understand the support for various scientific ideas and that you are able to apply them to a specific situation.

Take for example the Job Characteristics Model. This model suggests that five core job characteristics (i.e., skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback) tend to increase motivation (among other outcomes and mediating processes).

Thus, you could apply such a theory to make decisions about career choices. For example, all else being equal you might evaluate career choices by the degree to which they allow for autonomy, use of meaningful skill, and so on. Or you could use the ideas to think about how you could modify your position to make it more motivating.

Or take another example, of Holland's Codes which provides a scheme for understanding individual differences in vocational preference. You could use this to think about what particular jobs you might find more motivating.

And of course there are many theories directly concerned with understanding motivational processes.

Assuming the specific case of being "motivated towards a career" rather then simply getting a job to make ends meet, there can be several factors.

Social status is probably the most common pursuit of a career.

Enjoyment, which is the ideal reason for pursuing a career. Usually a career sought for enjoyment is referred to as 'pursuing one's dream'.

Proximity (a.k.a. convenience) is another driving factor. Which could also be considered the "path of least resistance". An example of this is following in your parents' footsteps. Another example could be someone's part-time job turning into a full-time career.


I found these two article which describes the work of John Holland and his theory of career choice. (not the scientific essay as requested in the comments but perhaps with more time I, or someone else, could elaborate on this topic further. It is definitely a good one)

Career Counseling – Definitions, Theories, and Assessments

Career counselors use theories and assessments to help others make career choices, think through career problems, find jobs, and explore opportunities. Just like therapists, there are many different types of career counselors who use different theories, intervensions, and assessments. One counselor might focus more on helping someone pick a career while another might help someone with job satisfaction or career development.

Choosing a career counselor will depend on what exactly you are looking for. If you are just starting out in your career you will probably want a counselor who can help you figure out what career path you want to take. If you have been in your field for a while, you might want someone who can help you progress in your field. In order to pick what kind of career counseling is best for you it can be helpful to know exactly what career counseling is, what some different theories are, and what assessments are used.

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Of the many different types of motivation theories, I would like to highlight two that are of particular use:

  1. David Merrill and Roger Reid’s work on the four personal styles
  2. David McClelland’s theory of motivation involving three basic needs: achievement, power, and affiliation

There are many more good motivation theories – Maslow, Myers-Briggs, etc. – but I’ve found these to be most useful in managing groups.

The Power of Intrinsic Motivation

The starting point for all three different types of motivation theories is that they are built on the concept that intrinsic motivation is much stronger than extrinsic. This bedrock fundamental is perhaps the most powerful concept to apply in your work see my post on top employee motivators for a more thorough review of incentive plans.

Briefly, it means that to get great results, you need people to be intrinsically interested in their work. Your efforts to control, set expectations, and reward people are all methods of extrinsic motivation, which helps explain why managers are often disappointed with employee results when relying on those motivation tools.

So, to help you get better results, here are three methods of intrinsic motivation that all build on that intrinsic bedrock.

Employee Motivation Theory 1: Merrill & Reid’s Personal Styles

In their theory on motivating different types of people, Merrill and Reid identify four personal styles:

  • Driver
    • Action Oriented: Focus is on present time frame, direct action
    • Minimum concern for caution in relationships. Tends to reject inaction
    • Prefers to control, tell
    • Intuition Oriented: Focus is on involving others, future time frame
    • Minimum concern for routine. Tends to reject isolation
    • Prefers to emote, tell
    • Relationship Oriented: Focus is on relating, supporting present time frame
    • Minimum concern for affecting change. Tends to reject conflict
    • Prefers to emote, ask
    • Thinking Oriented: Focus is on cautious action, “getting it right”, historical time frame, cautious action.
    • Minimum concern for relationships. Tends to reject being wrong.
    • Prefers to control, ask

    * Information adapted from their book, Personal Styles & Effective Performance .

    Application: To help people feel connected intrinsically with their work, structure their work so these personal style needs are met.

    • Driver
      • More effective
        • When you want to make a point, ask, as in, “What do you think of this idea?”
        • Get things done quickly that are going to be effective, even if they aren’t perfected
        • When you want to make a point, lecturing them, as in, “Here’s how it is”
        • Spending time in reflection and consideration, in an attempt to perfect
        • More effective
          • Make work a party while you’re getting stuff done breathe life into work
          • Make use of their good gut instincts
          • Spend 3 hours in a room sequentially creating a step-by-step checklist
          • Don’t trust them until they can “prove it”
          • More effective
            • Include effectively when a group tackles a project, and not just the “amiable” coworker they’ll feels others’ “pain” if their input is excluded
            • Act trustworthy, and trust them
            • Try to get results through intimidation and application of stress
            • Divide and conquer use conflict – of ideas, of emotions – to try to get best results
            • More effective
              • Give them space to get grounded – to get it “right” – before they proceed to action
              • Assign complex problems where you need absolute confidence in the details
              • Use conflict to try to get best results
              • Push, push, push, especially if towards an outcome that favors your self-interest
              • Ask them to “wing it”, to bet the company on their “hunch”

              Employee Motivation Theory 2: McClelland’s Theory of Motivation

              McClelland’s theory is very simliar to that of Merrill and Reid.

              • Achievement
                • More effective
                  • Seek: to excel
                  • May avoid both low- and high-risks as a result, in order to pursue meaningful success
                  • Work alone or with other high achievers
                  • More effective
                    • Seek: either personal or institutional power
                    • Either way they want to direct others, but the institutional power is in service to the institution’s success, so those with that focus tend to make better managers
                    • Direct others
                    • More effective
                      • Seek: harmonious work relationships, to accept, to be accepted, and to include others
                      • They can be more comfortable conforming to group norms
                      • Work in settings with significant personal interaction

                      Application: To help people connect intrinsically with their work, structure their work so their major need is met. The “Power” need correlates to the “Driver” above “Affiliation” to the “Amiable” above.

                      What’s new here is the “Achievement” need. It can cut across all the Merrill and Reid personal motivation styles. The key here is to surround high achievers with other high achievers. To be their best, they need to know they’re on a team capable of pulling off a worthwhile, attainable mission.

                      A Summary of Employee Motivation Theories

                      Employee motivation is simple.

                      • You can’t motivate people
                      • You can provide an environment where people motivate themselves
                      • Apply what you know about people’s styles to strengthen their individual work “environment”

                      These different types of motivation theories are simple in concept. What makes it hard is that all of the above mean building a healthy, vibrant work environment, and that work is as vulnerable as building any other effective relationship in your life.

                      Hopefully, in these posts on employee motivation, we’ve given you some signposts to help guide the way.

                      The five levels of needs

                      When applying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the workplace, you need to understand the needs and how they impact motivation. Each need builds on the last, allowing a person to feel more fulfilled, which in turn encourages motivation and creative thinking.

                      1. Physiological needs
                      2. Safety
                      3. Love and belonging
                      4. Esteem
                      5. Self-actualization

                      1. Physiological needs

                      The physiological needs in this hierarchy refer to the most basic human needs. Employees need access to vital services and opportunities while at work to feel their most basic needs are being met. You need access to a restroom, a place to get drinking water, breaks to eat meals and snacks, and a comfortable working environment. When applied to the workplace, one of your physiological needs is also a steady income to support yourself and pay for somewhere to live, food, utilities and other essential needs.

                      2. Safety

                      Safety is another vital need that can impact your overall satisfaction with your workplace. It is natural to worry about your own safety and the safety of your loved ones. For example, one of your priorities might be to provide a safe living space for your family, which is why you work hard to provide for that need. At work, it’s also important to feel that your physical safety is valued and prioritized.

                      You should feel that your resources and personal property are safe and protected. Ensuring a safe workplace may include providing ergonomic office furniture that properly supports you and reduces the risk of injury, along with securing the building to prevent potentially dangerous people from entering.

                      Another aspect of safety in the workplace pertains to feeling emotionally safe and supported. If you’re worried about losing your job due to layoffs or budget cuts, it is more challenging to achieve motivation to move to the next level in the hierarchy and perform at your highest level. Unsteady futures also lead to decreased morale in the workplace.

                      3. Love and belonging

                      The love and belonging level of Maslow’s hierarchy is slightly different in the workplace than it is in other areas of your life. If you don’t feel a sense of belonging, you may not feel as engaged at work or as motivated to succeed.

                      It’s not always easy for individuals to establish and form relationships at work. Companies that host social activities and offer more opportunities for relationship-building outside the office tend to have higher rates of employee engagement than organizations that don’t focus on these aspects of a work-life balance. When you feel like you belong and fit in within your workplace and your team, it is easier to feel motivated to work hard and achieve results. 

                      4. Esteem

                      Esteem is the belief that you are contributing to a higher goal and that the contributions you make are recognized. In the workplace, it is important to feel that you’re growing, advancing and achieving results, and that those around you recognize those results. When you have confidence in yourself and your abilities, as well as receive positive feedbackਊnd encouragement, you are more likely to succeed.

                      An employee’s esteem ultimately impacts their overall engagement as well. Offering regular recognition and appreciation for the tasks employees are doing can positively impact esteem, even when an employee is struggling. If feedback only comes in the form of an annual review, employee esteem may suffer. 

                      5. Self-actualization

                      The final level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-actualization, which translates to maximizing an individual’s potential at work. A person ultimately wants to feel they are doing the best they can in their position, which helps them feel motivated to continue on their career path and succeed. A self-actualized employee feels empowered and trusted, which encourages growth and engagement. 

                      One of the keys to making sure this need is met is giving employees opportunities that allow them to succeed. Supervisors should focus on their employees’ skills and abilities, helping them look for ways to advance their careers without pushing them into roles that will not be good fits. To feel self-actualized, you should feel challenged at work but not overwhelmed or overloaded. 

                      Career Counseling – Definitions, Theories, and Assessments

                      Career counselors use theories and assessments to help others make career choices, think through career problems, find jobs, and explore opportunities. Just like therapists, there are many different types of career counselors who use different theories, intervensions, and assessments. One counselor might focus more on helping someone pick a career while another might help someone with job satisfaction or career development.

                      Choosing a career counselor will depend on what exactly you are looking for. If you are just starting out in your career you will probably want a counselor who can help you figure out what career path you want to take. If you have been in your field for a while, you might want someone who can help you progress in your field. In order to pick what kind of career counseling is best for you it can be helpful to know exactly what career counseling is, what some different theories are, and what assessments are used.

                      The Importance of Finding Your Theoretical Orientation

                      Why is your theoretical orientation so important? Carrying on with the sense of style reference, you wouldn&rsquot want to leave home without expressing to the outside world who you are and what they can expect from you. Sure, style is a blanket statement and various individuals can be completely different, but still share the same style. Therapists are similar. With more than 400 theoretical orientations out there, you are bound to have some overlap.

                      Nonetheless, your theoretical orientation guides virtually all of your clinical decisions. The techniques you use, your treatment plans, and the way you measure change may be closely linked to the theories you work from. If you are not channeling your theoretical orientation in your therapy, then your treatments may be all over the place and you may have a limited ability to measure client progress. Doing so will undoubtedly cause you to appear incompetent to your clients. Theoretical orientations are a way to ground therapists and give them a foundation to work from.

                      Furthermore, knowing your theoretical orientation helps you connect with clients that will be good matches for your style. Many clients may find you through referrals and use your services without any regard to your therapeutic style. On the other hand, some clients will fit best with a therapist who can work well with their personality, culture, educational level, and religious affiliation. While it&rsquos certainly not necessary to have the exact same views or background as your clients to help them, when a client and therapist interact well, treatment outcomes are considerably better.


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                        4 Consequences of Intrinsic Motivation

                        A cognitive approach to motivation is an intrinsic form that requires students to think through the consequences of their actions and base their decisions on the expected outcome of those decisions. If students are able to think through the situation at hand and determine the value of success, regardless of whether they gain a reward, they are operating under the internal locus of control. Students who are successful in the classroom usually operate under the internal locus of control. They do not put too much weight on mistakes or bad grades and are still able to maintain a level of esteem regardless of failures or successes. They do not blame external factors such as the teacher or classmates. They take responsibility for their own actions.


                        Motivation is a so-called prerequisite to learning. As such, it has long been of interest among many educational researchers. This chapter introduced social cognitive theories of motivation. These theories, which continue to expand, have contributed significantly to the understanding of learner motivation. The theories of motivation have also yielded important implications for the instructional design process. In particular, Keller&rsquos ARCS model specifies how we take learner motivation into account when designing instruction. Expanding upon Keller&rsquos work, researchers have devised many technologies that aim to boost learner motivation. This chapter has presented an introduction to a few of those technologies.

                        Understanding McClelland's Theory

                        In the early 1940s, Abraham Maslow created his theory of needs . This identified the basic needs that human beings have, in order of their importance: physiological needs, safety needs, and the needs for belonging, self-esteem and "self-actualization".

                        Later, David McClelland built on this work in his 1961 book, "The Achieving Society." He identified three motivators that he believed we all have: a need for achievement, a need for affiliation, and a need for power. People will have different characteristics depending on their dominant motivator.

                        According to McClelland, these motivators are learned (which is why this theory is sometimes called the Learned Needs Theory).

                        McClelland says that, regardless of our gender, culture, or age, we all have three motivating drivers, and one of these will be our dominant motivating driver. This dominant motivator is largely dependent on our culture and life experiences.

                        These characteristics are as follows:

                        • Has a strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals.
                        • Takes calculated risks to accomplish their goals.
                        • Likes to receive regular feedback on their progress and achievements.
                        • Often likes to work alone.
                        • Wants to belong to the group.
                        • Wants to be liked, and will often go along with whatever the rest of the group wants to do.
                        • Favors collaboration over competition.
                        • Doesn't like high risk or uncertainty.
                        • Wants to control and influence others.
                        • Likes to win arguments.
                        • Enjoys competition and winning.
                        • Enjoys status and recognition.

                        Those with a strong power motivator are often divided into two groups: personal and institutional. People with a personal power drive want to control others, while people with an institutional power drive like to organize the efforts of a team to further the company's goals. As you can probably imagine, those with an institutional power need are usually more desirable as team members!

                        Common themes

                        We have identified four recurrent themes across the five theories discussed below, and believe that an up-front overview will help readers recognise commonalities and differences across theories. Table 1 offers a concise summary of each theory and Table 2 attempts to clarify overlapping terminology.

                        Expectancy of success (EVT)

                        Self-concept and self-esteem (more general characteristics of learner less context specific)

                        Outcome expectations (beliefs that specific outcomes will result from given actions)

                        Self-efficacy in SCT is very dynamic and context specific: it varies by task, setting, mood, physical health, etc.

                        Definitions of expectancy of success and self-efficacy in EVT vary in early theories this was rather general (often similar to self-esteem), but evolved to a more dynamic and context-specific construct in later theories. 19

                        In AT, expectancy of success is determined by the causal dimension of stability.

                        In SDT, value can arise from intrinsic motivation (e.g. curiosity) or extrinsic motivation (e.g. goals, utility and social values).

                        Outcome expectations (SCT the belief that specific outcomes will result from given actions) are conceptually similar to, but not synonymous with, task value.

                        In AT, task value is indirect, mediated by the learner's affective (emotional) response.

                        Goal content theories focus on what learners are trying to achieve. 41

                        Goal setting theories focus on the standard of performance, goal properties (proximity, specificity and difficulty) and goal choice. 42

                        Goal setting: a focus on the standard of performance (goal choice, targeted performance level and commitment).

                        Goal content: a focus on what learners are trying to achieve.

                        Intrinsic motivation forms the core of SDT

                        Intrinsic interest is part of the Eccles-Wigfield ‘value’ construct (EVT)

                        Interest is strongly associated with mastery goals (GOT)

                        • AT = attribution theory EVT = expectancy-value theory GOT = goal orientation theory SCT = social-cognitive theory SDT = self-determination theory.

                        All contemporary theories include a concept related to beliefs about competence. Variously labelled expectancy of success, self-efficacy, confidence and self-concept, these beliefs all address, in essence, the question ‘Can I do it?’. However, there are important distinctions both between and within theories, as elaborated below. For example, self-concept and earlier conceptions of expectancy of success (expectancy-value theory) viewed these beliefs in general terms (e.g. spanning a broad domain such as ‘athletics’ or ‘clinical medicine’, or generalising across time or situations). By contrast, self-efficacy (social-cognitive theory) and later conceptions of expectancy of success viewed these beliefs in much more task- and situation-specific terms (e.g. ‘Can I grade the severity of aortic stenosis?’).

                        Most theories also include a concept regarding the value or anticipated result of the learning task. These beliefs include specific terms such as task value, outcome expectation and intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. All address the question, ‘Do I want do to it?’ or ‘What will happen (good or bad) if I do?’. Again, there are important distinctions between theories. For example, task value (expectancy-value theory) focuses on the perceived importance or usefulness of successful task completion, whereas outcome expectation (social-cognitive theory) focuses on the probable (expected) result of an action if full effort is invested.

                        Most theories discuss the importance of attributions in shaping beliefs and future actions. Learners frequently establish conscious or unconscious links between an observed event or outcome and the personal factors that led to this outcome (i.e. the underlying cause). To the degree that learners perceive that the underlying cause is changeable and within their control, they will be more likely to persist in the face of initial failure.

                        Finally, all contemporary theories of motivation are ‘cognitive’ in the sense that, by contrast with some earlier theories, they presume the involvement of mental processes that are not directly observable. Moreover, recent theories increasingly recognise that motivation cannot be fully explained as an individual phenomenon, but rather that it often involves interactions between an individual and a larger social context. Bandura labelled his theory a ‘social-cognitive theory’ of learning, but all of the theories discussed below include both social and cognitive elements.

                        Again, each theory operationalises each concept slightly differently and we encourage readers to pay attention to such distinctions (using Table 2 for support) for the remainder of this text.

                        Watch the video: Δωρεάν Σεμινάριο Συναισθηματικής Διαχείρισης. με τον Αργύρη Σ. Μάρδα (May 2022).


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