Helical Motivation Theory
Steven L. Palacios
Integral theories of motivation have been correlated from major theories across research fields and have also been correlated to factors of personality from the Five Factor Model. The following is a further integration of motivation and personality including Maslow's hierarchy of needs, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, positive and negative reinforcement, type A and B behavior, right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. Through the integration of these theories a helical model of motivation is proposed for further application. This model will help to understand within a single model how differing types of personality can influence differing types of motivation.
Helical Motivation Theory
Among the many theories of motivation there has been integration. One of the first theories to be integrated is the Nobel prize winning Prospect Theory (PT) as well as an advancement to the theory called Cumulative Prospect Theory (CPT), both of which combine economic theories with psychology showing the non-linear change in motivation as it moved away from an economic reference point, disproving the long accepted view of expectancy theory (Kahneman &Tversky, 1979)(Tversky & Kahneman, 1992). Among these two theories it was found that the closer an amount of gain or loss was to a reference point, the greater a rate of change in value was given, increasing for gains and decreasing for losses as well as the change in value appearing greater for losses than gains, showing more risk averse behavior and less risk seeking behavior.
In addition to CPT, another study has included time as a motivational factor and has shown that the more time given, the more value is given to the task, and as time approaches the deadline, or the less time that is given, there is a decrease in value (Wicker et al., 2004). Temporal Motivation Theory (Steel & Konig, 2006) has also been introduced and includes time with CPT as important features to be integrated into an overall theory of motivation. Temporal Motivation Theory (TMT) not only explains the importance of time being related to motivation by explaining the rise and fall of motivation with time, but also with the effect of an approaching deadline causing an increasing rate of change for value as it approaches a deadline, similar to the gains and losses of CPT. In another study, gains have been found to appear closer in time than losses when referring back to them in memory (Peetz, Wilson, & Strahan, 2009) which has been described as a form of loss aversion.
The PT and CPT experiments were done using mostly hypothetical gains and losses of money, but research has also found that the valued happiness from gains and losses also depend on the fulfillment of a hierarchal structure of needs (Drakopoulos, 2008) supporting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. If lower level needs are not first satisfied, then higher level needs would not fully get satisfied. Therefore lower expectancies value more lower level physical needs and higher expectancies value more higher level self-actualization needs. However, even though higher level needs have higher value, the change in value is not as high if all other lower level needs have not first been satisfied.
Another type of motivation to be integrated is negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement which can be defined as motivating by either giving a valued reward as positive reinforcement, or taking something valued away as negative reinforcement (Maag, 2001). These two types of motivation fit with positive and negative expectancy by either expecting to lose something of value, or gain something of value. They also fit to the extent of expecting to gain or loose any kind of punishment, which is also a type of positive and negative reinforcer. However for the Helical Model of Motivation they are primarily defined as rewards being gained or lost.
Motivation is often defined by only two variables, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, where intrinsic motivation expects no reward and is only motivated by the task, and extrinsic motivation has an expectancy of reward besides the task. These two variables of motivation have been integrated into the motivating behavior of future time perspective, where intrinsic motivation accounts for no awareness of time, and extrinsic motivation does account for awareness of time (Husman & Lens, 1999). Intrinsic motivation was also found to be stronger than extrinsic motivation, which could relate to the findings of prospect theory where the rate of change in value was stronger near a reference point with little expectancy of gain or loss and grew weaker as it moved away with more expectancy of gain or loss which are dependent upon the fulfillment of prior gains or losses. This also related to the findings of time and motivation with the rate of change in value near a reference point.
Type-A and Type-B behavior have also been correlated to motivation. Type-A behavior has been characterized as being competitive with a driving sense of time urgency, and has been found that participants tested with this kind of behavior have a greater interest in being motivated in an extrinsic environment. Those tested with Type-B behavior, which is characterized as being more relaxed, patient, and friendly, have a greater interest in being motivated in an intrinsic environment (Lwler et al., 1991), and are placed with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation respectively on the proposed Helical Motivation Model.
Two other types of personality related to motivation is Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) and Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) which have both been correlated to extrinsic and intrinsic motivation respectively (Duriez, Soenens, & Vansteenkiste, 2007). SDO and RWA have also been correlated to traits in the Five Factor Model of Personality(FFM). Those high on SDO had been characterized as taking up ideologies that enhance social inequality with lack of both openness and agreeableness from the FFM and those high on RWA are characterized similar to SDO although with a difference in FFM scores such as higher conscientiousness and lower openness. The main differences being lower agreeableness for SDO than RWA, and lower openness for RWA than SDO (Sibley & Duckitt, 2010). SDO and RWA were found to occur in the extreme trait measures of personality from the FFM and have been found to be caused by measures of personality, and not RWA and SDO causing personality, supporting the important effects of personality influencing motivation.
Two ways of thinking that have been found to influence motivation are growth and non-growth perspectives of intelligence referred to as incremental theory and entity theory respectively (Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995). The two theories relate to motivation with support showing that a growth mindset of intelligence, where hard work is thought to determine success, has a higher influence of motivation in academic achievement than a non-growth mindset, where inherited traits are thought to determine success. Incremental mindsets and entity mindsets have previously been thought to relate to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation respectively (Abdullah, 2008) and therefore are placed in the proposed Helical Model of Motivation.
It has already been shown that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs relates to other types of motivation theories that fit within the proposed Helical Model, and a definition of Maslow's Hierarchy (Sumerlin & Bundrick, 1996) also appears to be defined similarly with the three motivational factors found to correlate to three personality factors from the Five Factor Model. The three personality factors of conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness from the Five Factor Model (FFM) have been significantly correlated to the motivational factors of accomplishment, status, and communion respectively (Bately et al., 2011). It is therefore hypothesized in the Helical Model that the three personality factors will also correlate to the higher three needs in Maslow's Hierarchy since the definition of these three higher needs relate in similarity.
Emotional stability (Neuroticism) from the Big Five Inventory based on the FFM was also tested in the previous study and contained facets that correlated to the motivational factors of accomplishment and communion and was grouped with the correlated personality traits of conscientiousness and agreeableness respectively. The FFM trait of openness had no correlation, however these correlations were done with a reduced scale of the Five Factor Model as well as only testing three motivation factors related to the five needs from Maslow's Hierarchy.
This leaves open the possibility of correlating the Five Factor Model traits of openness and neuroticism to the two remaining needs in Maslow's Hierarchy, safety and physiological respectively, as well as the higher three. Openness has already been related to safety and Right Wing Authoritarianism (Dallago & Roccato, 2010), as well as neuroticism being related to physical disorders (Goodwin, Cox, & Clara, 2006). Time relates to this hierarchy by reasons already mentioned as well as certain needs having to first be met before having the full value of the others, all of which taking a certain amount of time. The most basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy require less time to fulfill with higher needs requiring more time. With all of the theories of motivation discussed and integrated into a single model, a Helical Model of Motivation based on personality factors from the Five Factor Model is constructed and shown in Fig. 1. The Helical Model of Motivation is referred to as such simply because of the appeared shape when all of the theories of motivation have been graphically integrated. Support for this theory will help in knowing what elements to use in reference when motivating others with differing personalities, as well as the best approach for use of those elements.
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