Theories of Motivation – Content theories, Process theories

Theories of motivation generally aim at analysing the process of motivation and indicating how to motivate people. Motivation is defined as an internal drive that activates behaviour and gives it direction. Motivating requires understanding human nature and designing strategies for getting the work done. A number of motivation theories have been advanced.  Motivation theory is thus concerned with the processes that explain why and how human behaviour is activated.

theories of motivation


Types of Theories of Motivation

There are two different categories of motivational theories:

  1. Content theories: The content theory of motivation, also known as need theory mainly focuses on the internal factors that energise and direct human behavior. In general, such theories regard motivation as the product of internal drives that compel an individual to act or move (hence, “motivate”) toward the satisfaction of individual needs. Needs are deficiencies that energise or trigger behaviours to satisfy those needs. At some point in your life, you might have a strong need for food and shelter. At other times, your social needs may be unfulfilled. Unfulfilled needs create a tension that makes you want to find ways to reduce or satisfy those needs. The stronger your needs, the more motivated you are to satisfy them. Conversely, a satisfied need does not motivate. Some of the major content theories are:
  2. Process theories: Process theories of motivation provide an opportunity to understand the thought processes that influence behaviour. It explain how workers select behavioural actions to meet their needs and determines their choices The major process theories of motivation are:

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