Article

Motivation

Michael Richter, Rex A. Wright, Kerstin Brinkmann and Guido H. E. Gendolla

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online February 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0039
Motivation

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References to the construct of motivation are ubiquitous in most domains of life. Parents worry about how to motivate their children to apply themselves at school; business organizations send their employees to motivation seminars to improve the quality and quantity of their performance; women wonder how to motivate their husbands to devote more time to household chores. Given the frequency with which the motivation construct is referenced, one might think that there would be strong agreement about its meaning, at least within the motivation research community. However, there is in fact only modest agreement. Most researchers agree that goals, motives, needs, and incentives are key concepts; however, researchers vary in their understanding of defining characteristics. Thus, for example, whereas some would define motivation in terms of increased desire to attain or avoid an outcome, others would define it in terms of increased energy or effort expended at a given point or across time. The lack of agreement about definition has worked against the emergence of a coherent approach in the study of motivation and complicated the transfer of motivation knowledge. This is highlighted by a review of motivation textbooks, which reveals marked variation in organizational structure and theories presented. Fortunately, motivation definitions within the motivation research community do have a commonality. Specifically, they have in common an emphasis on variables and processes that determine the initiation, direction, and maintenance of behavior. We have drawn on this commonality in preparing this bibliography, listing theories and relevant references that we view as central to motivation as an area of study. We have refrained from explicitly discussing the key concepts of motivation psychology and from presenting theories in the context of a classification scheme. The references included in this article cover the most important key concepts. By studying them, readers will learn about the concepts and be able to organize the theories as they see fit. Importantly, our listing of theories is neither exhaustive nor evaluative. It is a mere sampling of perspectives, with conceptual focuses ranging from grand to limited. Readers can—and, indeed, are encouraged to—make their own judgments about the legitimacy and utility of the perspectives presented.

Article.  10867 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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